Workhorse big league right-hander Hiroki Kuroda said Thursday that he could not have just retired without pitching again in Japan.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the 39-year-old announced he was leaving the big leagues to return to his first pro club, the Central League's Hiroshima Carp, Kuroda said he decided that this year would be his last best chance to return to Nippon Professional Baseball after seven seasons in the United States with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

"I had this sense in my heart that had I retired without pitching (again) in Japan, something wouldn't be right," he told reporters outside Los Angeles where he is preparing for his first season in Japan since 2007.