LOS ANGELES -- Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Dodgers knowingly signed a player to a large contract despite knowing he had an injured shoulder. Hyun-jin Ryu said on Friday, one day after season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, said the tear was a known issue since he joined the Dodgers.
"I knew about the tear," Ryu said, through an interpreter.
The Dodgers signed Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract in December 2012, after paying $25.7 million to the Hanwha Eagles, winning the bid for Ryu's services. So when MRI results in spring training showed no difference from the MRI exam when he was signed, that was still technically correct.
We just didn't know about the labrum tear until now.
The knee-jerk reaction is to paint the Ryu signing with the Jason Schmidt brush, both signed by general manager Ned Colletti. But Schmidt, who was signed before 2007 for three years and $47 million despite a torn rotator cuff, was sidelined almost immediately, pitching only six games in his first year with the Dodgers, none in 2008, then four times in 2009.
Ryu was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball in 2013-2014, going 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA in 56 starts, with 293 strikeouts and 78 walks in 344 innings. He was also sidelined three times in two years with shoulder problems, but was able to return each time. That he was able to accomplish what he did in those two years with a torn labrum is remarkable.
"I can't really pick a certain date [when I pitched pain free], but there were certain times without pain," Ryu said.
Ryu said he didn't think he would eventually need surgery, and that the tear never worsened in two years.
"It was my decision to pitch through it," he said.
As the Dodgers said after his surgery on Thursday, Ryu said he plans to be ready for spring training in 2016. He was asked if he will be as good as before when he returns to the Dodgers.
"I'll try my best," Ryu said.