Chiba Lotte Marines flamethrower Roki Sasaki said Saturday he has expressed his desire to play in Major League Baseball since joining the Pacific League club, while both sides denied that ambition delayed the signing of his 2024 contract.

The 22-year-old, who in 2022 became the youngest pitcher to throw a perfect game in Japan, agreed to terms Friday on his contract with Lotte for the upcoming season, just six days before the start of spring training.

"I have the desire to play in the U.S. major leagues in the future," Sasaki told a news conference. "I've been having proper communication with the club every year. I believe the club understands it too."