When Hyun-Jin Ryu was battling shoulder inflammation during Spring Training it was said to be the same injury that twice forced him to the disabled list last season. In the weeks since, Ryu has attempted to resume throwing only to be stymied by the troublesome shoulder.
Reports surfaced Tuesday the left-hander made the decision to undergo season-ending surgery, while others suggested it was merely a possibility.
During a Tuesday evening conference call, Dodgers president of baseball operations offered little reason to be optimistic on the matter. “It hasn’t progressed as quickly as we all hoped,” Friedman said of Ryu’s shoulder injury. Ryu last threw a bullpen session May 1 during which he had decreased velocity.
“He’s worked extra hard to get back and it isn’t happening as quickly as we’d like. It’s not a totally clear, a black and white issue. It’s more involved than you think.” Friedman also added discussions were being held and a decision on surgery wasn’t yet made. That changed Wednesday afternoon with news of Ryu scheduled for arthroscopic surgery.
While the Dodgers and Ryu have previously maintained the pitcher would take the mound this season, Friedman has been working under a different assumption. “It’s been an ongoing process the last couple of months, with peaks and valleys throughout,” Friedman said. “Our mindset has been to treat it as if he’s not coming back because it’s easier to react than the other way.”
Should Ryu opt for surgery that forces him to miss the remainder of the season, the Dodgers will have lost two-fifths of their expected starting rotation in a matter of a month. Brandon McCarthy was lost to a torn UCL in his right elbow four starts into his first season with the Dodgers.
Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias have helped provide stability to the rotation, but a move appears necessary for a team with World Series aspirations. “We’re never really comfortable with our starting-pitching depth,” Friedman said. “If we can add an arm, it would certainly be helpful.”
Friedman previously said the Dodgers would first look internally to replace McCarthy and hit the trade market in June. It’s unclear if his approach will change should Ryu also be lost for the year.
Ryu won 14 games in both of his two seasons with the Dodgers, but only threw 152 innings in 2014 compared to 192 in his rookie year. He’d set a goal of pitching 200 innings this season, which grew more and more unattainable with each passing week he remained sidelined, and now can essentially be ruled out.
Signed to a six-year deal, Ryu can opt out after the 2017 season only if he pitches at least 400 innings between now and the end of the 2017 season. Otherwise, the left-hander remains under contract through 2018.
Brandon McCarthy Discusses Torn UCL