Royals interested in signing Japanese free agent Kuroda

TOKYO (AP) _ The Kansas City Royals may be turning to Japan to
bolster their roster. New Kansas City manager Trey Hillman spent five seasons in Japan managing the Nippon Ham Fighters. Today he said he'd like to see pitcher Hiroki Kuroda -- Japan's top free agent pitcher -- in a Royals uniform next season.

The Seattle Mariners are thought to have the inside track for
Kuroda after sending a contingent to Japan a week ago to meet with
him.

Kuroda has said he would prefer to play for a team on the West
Coast. But if he played for the Royals, Kuroda would have a manager
with a wealth of experience working with Japanese players.

The Royals are also in pursuit of free agent relief pitcher
Yasuhiko Yabuta, who went 4-6 with four saves and a 2.73 ERA last
season for the Chiba Lotte Marines.


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