VERO BEACH, Fla. -- For 10 minutes on Friday, Hiroki Kuroda was the star of the Dodgers' first workout and new manager Joe Torre was a spectator.
The $35.3 million Japanese import debuted in Dodger Blue with a 29-pitch bullpen session that caught his catcher by surprise.
"He was throwing harder than I thought he would," said Russell Martin. "And he told [Brad] Penny he was only throwing at 60 percent. He had a nice two-seamer that complements his slider, and he showed good command of his splitty, which he says he likes to throw in the dirt. This is going to be fun."
Kuroda, 33 and a 10-year veteran overseas, didn't know what all the fuss was about. He estimated he was throwing about 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph), and said that he had no trouble adjusting to the feel of a Major League baseball and that he paid no attention to the dozens of Japanese media and club officials who watched every pitch.
He said he liked the atmosphere of Dodgertown, the Florida weather (sunny and 75 degrees) and the short practice time (compared to the marathon regimen of a Japanese Spring Training).
Torre earlier said the club would try to strike a balance in not messing with Kuroda's established training program while preparing him to pitch every five days, more frequently than is required in Japan.
"Knowing we scouted and signed him, you don't want to all of a sudden rearrange the furniture," said Torre. "He'll pitch more often here and we'll make sure he's ready to do that.
"Having managed Asian players and knowing how disciplined they are with a great deal of pride, he seems to have a very relaxed way about him," Torre said. "He seems very comfortable with who he is. He seems to know his capabilities."
Also throwing: Penny, Chad Billingsley and Esteban Loaiza were among the pitchers also throwing bullpen sessions on Friday. Derek Lowe, Jason Schmidt (shoulder surgery) and Yhency Brazoban (shoulder surgery) are scheduled to throw Saturday. Hong-Chi Kuo (elbow surgery) threw off the mound on Friday.
Penny said he felt as good as he ever has in a first bullpen session. Billingsley said he had previously thrown about eight bullpen sessions leading up to camp and he was already throwing breaking balls. Billingsley came to last year's camp as a starting pitcher and was shifted to the bullpen midway through camp, then inserted into the rotation when Schmidt had surgery. This year, Billingsley is expected to be in the rotation.
The only pitcher yet to report is non-roster invitee Alfredo Simon, who encountered visa problems in the Dominican Republic.
Looking left: Torre said he prefers to keep two left-handed relievers, pretty well outlining one of the few spring decisions to be made. Joe Beimel will be one. Competition for the second spot will focus on non-roster invitees Mike Myers (who pitched for Torre in New York) and former Dodger Tom Martin, but a 40-man roster candidate could be Kuo, coming off his fourth elbow operation and out of options.
Other left-handers on the 40-man roster are Eric Stults and Greg Miller, while non-roster possibilities include Matt Riley and Brian Shackleford.
Barring injury or sudden loss of ability, most of the bullpen pretty much returns from last season -- Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Beimel, Scott Proctor and Rudy Seanez.