Yomiuri Giants right-hander Koji Uehara said Monday he wants to fulfill his dream of playing in the major leagues after meeting the requirements to become a free agent.
“I haven’t seized the dream of playing in the major leagues. That is my ambition,” the 33-year-old Uehara said at a news conference.
“I don’t have that much time left and I want to achieve that goal before I see out my career.”
Uehara qualified for free agency for the first time last Friday and is expected to formally announce his decision to exercise that option after the end of the season.
In 1998, Uehara opted to remain in Japan and play for Yomiuri instead of the Anaheim Angels when he was a highly-touted college pitcher at Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences.
“Joining the Giants was how it turned out (but) I have an ambition to play abroad. I can’t lie to myself,” said Uehara.
Uehara has a 106-58 career record with a 2.97 ERA over nine-plus seasons with the Central League club. He took the loss in a 4-3 defeat to the Chunichi Dragons in his first start on Tuesday after returning to the rotation this season.
Last year, Uehara made a slow start due to injury, but posted a new club record of 32 saves in the closer’s role to help Yomiuri wins its first league championship in five years.