Last we heard of Hyun-Jin Ryu, he was headed to Japan to rehab. Now he says he’s ready to go.
Ryu believes he is completely recovered and can be an asset to the Dodgers, according to Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency. He said he wants to start throwing from the mound immediately.
“Right now, I’d say I am in better shape than I normally would be at the start of spring training,” Ryu said. “I threw four bullpen sessions while training in Japan. I have no pain at the moment.”
While the Korean lefty’s return would benefit the Dodgers, they’ve moved forward without him. Four rotation spots are set with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias. Though as last year taught us, injuries are part of the game. There will be additional starting chances as well: Urias and Maeda may need to be limited. Urias hasn’t thrown a full MLB season, while Maeda’s arm deteriorated down the stretch of 2016.
Ryu has pitched well when healthy, carrying a 3.28 ERA. But he’s started one game in the last two years and cannot avoid physical mishaps. While he said he wants to compete for a starting role, the realistic resolution is for Ryu to adopt a role as a lefty specialist, which will help both parties substantially.
Under contract for two more seasons at $14 million, the Dodgers will hope Ryu isn’t added to the long list of recent sunk costs. For Ryu, he’s at a pivotal point of his career that will determine if he’ll continue playing Major League baseball. The best route to both means is for Ryu to pitch out of the ‘pen as a specialist and occasional long-reliever.