The old boys of spring

Hurt pride requires extra ice

On Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda and Takahiro Arai resumed their preseason, simulated-game, WWF-style rivalry. A year to the day after he vowed to break teammate Arai’s bat in a simulated game — only to be taken deep the next day, Kuroda gave up a liner back through the box off Arai’s bat. The right-hander spoke the media with an outrageous amount of ice on his glove hand.

“It’s being iced for now, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Kuroda said with a straight face.

“I was worried there,” Arai said. “If it was my ball that hit him and he got hurt, people would all be blaming me.”

Kuroda, who turned 41-years-old this month, showed amazing reflexes to spear the ball with his glove and explained that he was trying to cut the 39-year-old Arai some slack

“It’s not good to hit guys with pitches, so I threw something fat down the middle. Who’d have thought his bat control was that good?” Kuroda said.

A year earlier, when Arai homered off him on Feb. 28, Kuroda feigned disdain for his teammate’s antics.

“He held his fist pump too long. Do that in the majors and the next pitch you see will come at you.”

A day after saying that Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be in their season-opening five-man rotation, the SoftBank Hawks have revealed that Tadashi Settsu will start on Opening Day for the fifth straight time.

Speaking of starters, Scott Mathieson, who hasn’t started a regular season game since he starting 12 in 2011 for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, is being stretched out to start this season and gave the Yomiuri Giants five innings in their preseason home debut against the Swallows.

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