Five years after turning down the major leagues in order to polish both his batting and pitching in Japan, Shohei Otani said Saturday he is once more heading toward America.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club, Otani expressed his desire to be the best player in the world and his belief he can only achieve that in the major leagues, where he wouldn't rule out playing in the field in order to bat between starts.

As a high schooler, Otani turned his back on the major leagues after the Fighters and manager Hideki Kuriyama convinced him he could farther and faster if he learned his trade in Japan's Pacific League. There, he would be able to hit and pitch as an 18-year-old against some of the worlds' best players but in Nippon Professional Baseball's somewhat shallower talent pool.

"The Fighters were a perfect fit," Otani said. "Without them, without manager Kuriyama, I wouldn't be the player I am now."

"As a pitcher, a part of me believes I can make it moving forward, but I also have confidence that I can continue on as I have been (batting). The lessons the coaches imparted to me and their support and that of manager Kuriyama have given me the confidence to believe I can carry on."

"I don't know if that kind of environment exists in the majors (where I can do both), but to be honest, when I turned pro, it didn't exist here, either. If I can't find the right environment, I won't be able to take on that challenge. I can't do it on desire alone."

Although trying his act in the majors will be a new challenge, Otani has been through it before.

"When I was finishing high school, nobody believed I could do both," he said. "Now I need to find out what is available (in the majors)."

He gave the same answer when asked if he might consider playing in the field between his games on the mound, as he really hasn't done since he was a rookie.

"Until I find out, I won't know what options there are," he said. "I really want to hear what people with different teams are thinking."

A majority of the major league scouts who have spoken to Kyodo News see his pitching as more valuable than his batting, but because Otani can sign with whomever he likes, it seems unlikely a team desiring to sign him will not offer him some plan to do both. Indeed, some National League teams that cannot use a designated hitter have talked about putting him at first base or in the outfield.

Otani suggested that wherever he signs, he will be positive and confident.

"Regarding this path I have decided on myself, I believe I can give it my best shot," he said. "I've come this far for five years without wavering. So in whatever circumstances I find myself, I feel I'll go there with confidence, something I take from my five years (with the Fighters)."

"I will miss not being around manager Kuriyama, who helped me so much. But that is also part of my challenge."