Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu joined the Los Angeles Dodgers last season after spending his entire career in the Korean Baseball Organization.
He came in and did better than many expected, finishing with a 14-8 record, a 3.00 ERA and a fourth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. This year, he has started the season with 12 scoreless innings and will be starting his third game in the Dodgers’ sixth game of the season.
According to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News, the 27-year-old feels a bit different this season, in a good way:
I’m a lot more comfortable, he said Sunday. I understand the team better, I understand the system better. I know the players, so that helps a lot. I can definitely say I’m a lot more comfortable this year than at this point last year.
Last year, Ryu had to deal with a new home, a new team and an entirely different lifestyle, moving from South Korea to Los Angeles. He adjusted well and meshed with the clubhouse despite the language barrier. Ryu was often seeing joking around with Juan Uribe and Yasiel Puig off and on the field. Many believe that the left-hander would not adjust well to the grueling MLB season because of his weight. He may have struggled at some points and made a change heading into this season to alleviate that pressure via Hoornstra:
I don’t know if it’s directly influential, Ryu said through an interpreter, but I am definitely in better condition physically than I was last year.
It seems as if Ryu covered all bases this off-season in order to be ready for 2014 and judging by his first two starts, he may take the step into the upper echelon of pitchers. A dominant Ryu would give the Dodgers the best front-end of any rotation.
Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw To Miss US Opener With Back Injury