Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the new guy at spring training this time last year. In a new environment with a new team and contract negotiations that came down to the wire, Ryu would face other challenges regarding his weight and physical abilities.
Last spring training was tough for Ryu as he admits to being extremely winded during conditioning drills. He was often the last pitcher to finish conditioning drills last off-season, which was motivation to come to Camelback Ranch in better shape for the 2014 season.
The team has Ryu listed at 255 pounds, but Ryu promises he’s significantly lighter than last year as he vowed to drop weight to breeze through conditioning drills like never before. Talking to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, Ryu credited his teammates for pushing him to make this change:
Absolutely, working hard is very contagious. My teammates definitely push me. At the end of the day, you have to do it yourself. I just try to be in the best shape I can. I’m an athlete; it’s my job to be in the best condition.
His weight last year wouldn’t be a huge detriment to his performance last year, going 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA and establishing himself as a big contributor in the rotation. With the expectations to live up to a six-year, $36 million contract, Ryu also finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. Similar to Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia, who lost close to 30 pounds two off-seasons ago, Ryu took his physical condition into his own hands in order to optimize his abilities on the mound.
The organization will see a more comfortable and agile Ryu as he goes into this year’s spring training having a year of Major League experience under his belt. With established friends and familiar faces around him this time around, the weight loss can only improve Ryu’s pitching performances moving forward.
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