Free agent pitcher Koji Uehara sets sights on return to NPB


Free agent reliever Koji Uehara said Wednesday he would consider returning to Japan to continue his playing career if he received an offer from a Nippon Professional Baseball club.

Uehara, who played for the Chicago Cubs last season, said last month he has not been approached by a Japanese club and has no intention of returning, while hinting at retirement after the 2018 season, the 20th season of his professional career.

But in his most recent blog post, the 42-year-old right-hander revealed that he is currently in the United States but hasn’t heard good news from his agent, and has set his mind to playing in Japan should a team “invite” him to join.

“I did say I would retire if I don’t land a deal with a major league club. But for the past four months I have been training believing I would sign a contract and I would hate to quit this way,” Uehara said.

“I may be criticized for taking back what I once said but I want to play baseball. If you take baseball away from me I would be left not knowing what to do.”

After 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants, Uehara made the jump overseas and began his major league career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. He also had stints with the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and the Cubs.

In his first year in Boston, Uehara finished with seven saves in the 2013 postseason to help the Red Sox win the World Series.

He went 22-26 with a 2.66 ERA in 436 games while recording 95 saves in nine seasons in the majors.