Hiroki Kuroda exceeded the expectations of many in his first season with the Yankees, and as much as he enjoyed the experience, it was not an easy decision for the right-hander to return.

Because his family makes their home in Los Angeles, where he spent the first four seasons of his Major League career, Kuroda wrestled with his options over the winter -- including going back to the Dodgers, who were among the clubs that made an offer.

Ultimately, Kuroda accepted a one-year, $15 million deal to return to New York, where he won 16 games last season and hopes to continue being a trusted piece of the rotation this year.

"It was a good decision, but it was hard," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "There were options that I had. There were offers from other teams, but I ended up making the decision to stay with the Yankees."

The 38-year-old Kuroda, who said that he prefers one-year contracts so he can focus fully on each season, said that it was "really appealing" to come back to the Yankees' professional, veteran-heavy clubhouse.

"When I look at my career, obviously I don't know how many years I have left in me," Kuroda said. "I'm in that stage where I want to play for a team that I really love to play for, and hopefully when I retire, I'll have time with my family."

Kuroda made sure to say that he considers the Dodgers, for whom he pitched from 2008-11, as also being "a great organization." There were reports that Kuroda was considering returning to Japan, but the pitcher seemed to be amused by the suggestion and said that Japanese teams were not among the choices he was considering.

"Actually, I have never said that I want to play in Japan at this stage of my career," Kuroda said. "I don't know; maybe it's the Japanese media that's talking about it.

"What I have said is that if I'm going back, I'm going to play for my former team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. I haven't thought about that at this stage. Who knows? I may end my career at the end of this year."