With Clayton Kershaw being placed on the disabled list due to inflammation in his back and Zack Greinke unable to pitch due to his appearance in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ exhibition game on Thursday, Hyun-Jin Ryu was forced into action on Sunday as the Dodgers resumed their regular season schedule. Ryu had been dealing with his own injury, a split toenail, which he suffered during his start on March 22, but healed in time to take the mound.
After struggling a bit with pitch location through the first two innings, Ryu eventually settled in, retiring 16 consecutive San Diego Padre batters from the third to the seventh inning. The left-hander kept the Padres at bay before giving way to Brian Wilson, who similarly struggled and gave up three runs to the Padres in the loss. Despite the fact that Ryu had found his momentum, he suggested to manager Don Mattingly that he be lifted after the seventh due to fatigue, according to the OC Register’s Pedro Moura:
Hyun-jin Ryu said he suggested to Mattingly that he exit after 7 innings because he was feeling tired in the 7th
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) March 31, 2014
Ryu admitting to fatigue after just two starts is some cause for concern as he is also slated to start the home opener on April 4, again in place of Kershaw. Interestingly, the three-game stretch for Ryu is what Mattingly mentioned he was considering avoiding burdening Kershaw with due to the risk of wearing out the left-handed ace early in the season. Ryu had similar bouts of fatigue last season, which resulted in him struggling to locate his pitches. If Ryu is unable to pitch on Friday, Mattingly may turn to Josh Beckett or Paul Maholm to start. With Ryu the latest Dodger to finish an outing at less than 100 percent, it may also lead to further criticism for the team beginning the season in Australia, which other than the long flights, involved a compressed spring training schedule.
VIDEO: Here’s Why Clayton Kershaw Missed The Season Opener