Japan's manager for the World Baseball Classic said Tuesday he is pondering whether Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani should pitch at next March's tournament, hit, or do both.

"Basically, I'm thinking he should be able to do both," Hideki Kuriyama told a press conference at Major League Baseball's winter meetings in San Diego.

Japan national baseball team manager Hideki Kuriyama speaks to reporters in San Diego, California, on Dec. 6, 2022. (Kyodo)

If Ohtani does pitch, Kuriyama said he could use him either as a starter or closer.

Japan's first WBC game is held on March 9, forcing players to be ready earlier than usual, and making baseball's already long season even more physically demanding.

The challenges may lead Ohtani, MLB's only full-time hitter and pitcher, to end up with a less strenuous role for Japan ahead of the regular season.

Combined photo shows Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels pitching en route to his second win of the season and hitting an RBI double in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, on April 27, 2022. At the plate, Ohtani had his first three-hit game of the season. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Tournament rules remain unclear as to when MLB players can join their national teams for training.

In addition to Ohtani, San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish has announced he will play in March.

San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish takes the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 23, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"If the rules allow, I want them to join us when training camp begins in Miyazaki in February," said Kuriyama, who managed Ohtani during his five years with the Nippon Ham Fighters before the athlete moved to MLB.

Darvish was a member of Japan's second WBC championship team in 2009. Ohtani has never taken part, having missed the previous WBC in 2017 because of an injury to his right ankle.

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