Hyun-Jin Ryu had become an afterthought.

Ryu departed for Japan two weeks before spring training. There he continued his rehab, determined to enter March healthy. He told the Orange County Register his goal was to re-take his rotation spot. Ryu made one start in the last two seasons, yet his confidence held firm.

It wasn’t a promising start for Ryu. His velocity sat around 84-86 mph in his first bullpen session. Andrew Friedman said anything the franchise gets from Ryu would be a “boon.” The team remained optimistic and monitored Ryu’s arm.

But when the games rolled around, Ryu flipped the switch. He pitched two scoreless innings in his debut against the Angels. He had a consistent, impressive spring from there. With every start it became more apparent the comeback was real.

Then there was the competition aspect. Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood were the reported favorites to follow Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. Scott Kazmir dropped off with injuries, as did Brock Stewart. A realization formed that Ryu only had to top one of Wood or McCarthy to win a starting job.

Ryu finished March with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings. He appeared in only four games, but made those count. His showings prompted Dave Roberts to admit the team is better with Ryu in the rotation.

Roberts announced Ryu as a rotation-lock, bringing the end to his rehab, and the official start to his comeback. It won’t be an easy start for Ryu, however; his first two foes: Colorado and the Chicago Cubs.

Ryu will be welcomed back to the show quickly. He’s already overcome the odds in March – now it’s time to see if he can do it in April and beyond.

Charlie Culberson heads to Triple-A

About The Author

News Desk

Gabe Burns is an award-winning journalist. He serves as a reporter and editor at the DodgersNation news desk. He additionally works as editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student paper. Gabe's work has been featured on a number of platforms, including Draft Breakdown and Pro Football Spot. His byline has been cited in media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Aside from covering Dodgers baseball, Gabe enjoys watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning. He can be followed on Twitter at @GabeBurns_DN.

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