LOS ANGELES -- For Hiroki Kuroda, it was Dodgers or bust. During a news conference on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander said he never seriously considered signing with any other Major League club and was excited about the one-year, $12 million deal he signed last week to remain with the Dodgers for a fourth season. "I'm so happy to be able to come back," Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. "If I was to stay here in the States, I always preferred to stay here with the Dodgers."
Kuroda, who went 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA in 31 starts last season with the Dodgers, said he entertained thoughts of going back to his native Japan, where he previously starred with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, but that he decided to stay in the United States because he pitched so well last season. "It was one of my options, but the ultimate reason I came back was because I was able to pitch close to the idea I had in my head for last year," Kuroda said. "Obviously, I've been with the Dodgers for three years, so I love my teammates and I love the city. So basically my performance from last season motivated me to continue on next year." Kuroda, 35, set career bests last season by striking out 159 hitters in 196 1/3 innings and walked just 48. He also posted a 2.87 ERA after the All-Star break, holding opponents to a .204 batting average over that span. While his performance could have earned him a multiyear contract, Kuroda said he preferred to take just a one-year deal. "I told my agent I wanted a one-year deal because my philosophy in baseball is to battle one year at a time," Kuroda said. "So that's how I looked at it." Kuroda, who came to the Dodgers in 2008 on a three-year deal worth $35.3 million, has a career 3.60 ERA, which is the lowest among Japanese starting pitchers in Major League history. He was also the club's Opening Day starter in '09 and pitched in the postseason in back-to-back seasons, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two postseason starts against the Cubs and Phillies in '08 before struggling in a loss to the Phillies in the National League Championship Series in '09. Kuroda said he's reached many of the goals he set out when he first came to the Majors but that there's still one big one he'd love to attain before he retires or heads back to Japan. "There are many things I still want to accomplish," Kuroda said. "That's why I came back. I wanted to achieve my goals with the Dodgers here. I want to win a championship."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.