It was a night of firsts for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday at Peoria Sports Complex. It was the Dodgers’ first game under lights, first time facing Matt Kemp, and Hyun-Jin Ryu made his first start of Spring Training.
Like Zack Greinke and Joel Peralta, Ryu was slowed through the early stages of camp due to a minor ailment — with his being mid-back tightness. He resumed throwing toward the end of February, threw a live batting practice session on March 7 and took the mound Thursday.
Ryu’s first inning of work included facing his former teammate, which was something he downplayed, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA:
It was unique. Who would have thought I would have experienced something like this?” Ryu asked rhetorically. “But at the same time he was just another hitter for me, that’s how I treated him.”
As for his overall night of work — two innings worth — Ryu said his focus was on getting healthy:
I felt great,” Ryu said after his performance. “I didn’t really think about it as a regular game. It was more like a preparation for the regular season, to get healthy.”
After the Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason, Ryu returned to his native South Korea and set a goal of pitching 200 innings this season. He traveled to Arizona in January to begin preparing for 2015 and again restated his goal after pitchers and catchers reported.
While Ryu’s back tightness wasn’t considered a serious matter, his health and that of the starting pitchers will be an important factor this season. Though, it may be Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy who are watched more closely given their trouble in remaining healthy throughout their respective careers.
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