(Reuters) - Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish will not play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic next year, saying on Tuesday he wants to focus on winning a World Series.
"After much deliberation, which has included a lot of consultation with my coaches and trainers, I have decided that I will not play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic," Darvish said in a statement.
"This was a very difficult decision for me as it is always a tremendous honor to represent my native country of Japan.
"I greatly enjoyed being a part of the 2009 Championship ball club and I will be supporting this year's team as they look to defend their title."
Darvish was a key member of the Japan squad that won the 2009 Baseball Classic, recording the victory over South Korea in the championship game while closing out the semi-final victory over the United States.
After seven seasons starring in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters, the hard-throwing right-hander made the jump to the Major Leagues last season and finished an impressive rookie campaign with a record of 16-9, 221 strikeouts and 3.90 ERA in 29 starts.
"Given my substantial workload over the last few seasons and the numerous changes I've endured in my move to the United States, I have decided with my team of advisers that getting ample rest is the most important thing for me right now as I prepare for the 2013 season," said Darvish.
"My ultimate goal is to help win a World Series with the Texas Rangers and to share that accomplishment with the great baseball fans in Japan."
The 2013 World Baseball Classic will be played from March 2-19 at several venues across the United States with pool matches also being staged in Japan, Taiwan and Puerto Rico.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)