In the first inning, new Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda was Hideo Nomo. The second inning he was Kei Igawa.

Welcome to the AL East.

Japanese pitchers have had their troubles pitching in the major leagues, but going from the Far East to the AL East is the most difficult transition of them all. Kuroda had his share of success with the NL West Dodgers and yesterday he made his spring-training debut with the Yankees in a 4-0 loss to the Rays at Steinbrenner Field.

Kuroda breezed through a perfect first but surrendered three runs in the second, the big hit being a two-run triple by DH Stephen Vogt. Kuroda gave up three hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out two on impressive splitters.