UPDATE (April 25, 3:50 p.m. PT): According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to throw a bullpen session in the coming days:
Ryu will be throwing a bullpen session in the next couple of days, possibly tomorrow.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 25, 2015
Hyun-Jin Ryu began preparing for the 2015 season weeks before pitchers and catchers were expected to report for the start of Spring Training. Unfortunately for the left-hander, his work during the offseason was washed away as he first suffered mid-back tightness followed by inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
The latter was an issue Ryu was twice placed on the 15-day disabled list last season and one that isn’t considered serious. That being said, Ryu began the season on the DL and there’s been little progress to report on, outside of him throwing from 60 feet on flat ground.
When asked recently about Ryu’s recovery and whether he’d return before the All-Star break, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman offered few specifics, via AM 570 LA Sports:
I don’t know yet. It’s more just day by day and making sure the arrow is still pointing up. It’s hard to put a timetable on it until he starts getting off the mound. Once he does that, we can put a plan together to build him up and get him back. Until then, I’m not as focused on when will he back as the day-to-day progress.”
When pressed further, Friedman neither ruled out or committed to Ryu returning before the All-Star break and said he didn’t know when the South Korea native would begin throwing from the mound.
For all intents and purposes, the Dodgers expected to be without their starter for the majority of April. Their schedule in the first month of the season set up so that a fifth pitcher was only needed twice — those starts went to David Huff and Mike Bolsinger in games the Dodgers won.
However, May won’t afford the same luxury and while Friedman would prefer to stick with one replacement for Ryu as opposed to continuing with the use of multiple pitchers, he suggested the club will remain flexible moving forward:
A lot of our guys in Oklahoma City are pitching really well right now. Ideally when we go with a guy, they’ll be with us until Ryu is healthy. But we have a lot of interesting options and to the extent something doesn’t work out we’ll kind of look ahead to our upcoming opponent and try to figure out who we think gives us the best chance to win.”
While it’s not tied to the fifth spot in the rotation coming up, the Dodgers are expected to use a Minor-League pitcher in Sunday’s game, likely either Scott Baker or Joe Wieland. The change allows for the remaining starting pitchers to get an extra day rest.
Although Ryu potentially not returning until after the All-Star break is a considerable blow for a team that’s built on pitching, the Dodgers have maintained they won’t rush his recovery and there’s no reason to deviate from that course of action.
It will place additional pressure on Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, but both have pitched well to this point. Moreover, Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi stockpiled plenty of arms that should help ease Ryu’s prolonged absence.
Los Angeles Dodgers President Of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman