SAN DIEGO -- Hiroki Kuroda has been told that the Japanese media is speculating that he'll return to Japan to pitch a farewell season with Hiroshima in 2012.
"It's amazing that something I don't know, someone else knows," said Kuroda, who will finish off his best season as a Dodger with a start Tuesday night against Arizona. "They have a 50-50 chance."
Kuroda told reporters earlier this month that he intends to continue playing. He reiterated Sunday that if he ever returns to pitch in Japan, it would be with Hiroshima, his club for 11 seasons before coming to the Dodgers.
But he said he never said he would play a farewell season in Japan before retiring.
"It's not my style to think about the future so far ahead," he said. "Every offseason I think the coming season will be my last. I thought that last year. You never know what happens. I think every start could be my last start. I don't know when my last year will be, I don't know when my last start will be.
"I'll tell you one thing: I tend to go the other way. At this moment, I really don't know. I might stay here, I might go to Japan. It's 50-50."
With Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly lined up for next year's rotation, the Dodgers will need a veteran innings-eater like Kuroda, if not one that costs the $12 million they paid Kuroda this year. Nathan Eovaldi is the tentative favorite for the fifth spot.
Kuroda is 13-16 with a 3.17 ERA, the most wins and lowest ERA in his four seasons with the Dodgers, and he needs four more innings to hit 200 for the first time and earn a final incentive of $200,000.
A victim of non support in June and July, Kuroda's 16 losses lead the league and are the most for a Dodger since Orel Hershiser lost 16 in 1987. The last Dodger to lose 17 was Fernando Valenzuela in 1984.