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Hyun-jin Ryu unlikely to rejoin Dodgers until May

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- We knew the Dodgers would likely be without Hyun-jin Ryu to start the regular season, but there was no real timetable for the left-hander's return from shoulder surgery. That changed Saturday, with the left-hander acknowledging a May return is most likely.

Ryu threw a bullpen session on Friday, his third since camp started on Feb. 19. But he is still throwing at less than 100-percent intensity — the buzz word the last few years from the club's medical staff was submaximal throwing — and behind the others in camp.

"If you look at where the pitchers are going who are deemed full intensity, and you look at Ryu's intensity, they don't parallel," manager Dave Roberts said. "If you look at April 4, he's behind. We said it from the beginning there's no hard date, and we're not going to rush him."

This has been no secret since camp started, with the Dodgers indicating multiple times this spring that they are taking it slow with Ryu, who had left shoulder surgery in May 2015. That timetable became a little more firm on Saturday.

"My goal is to start some time in May, then to have 20-something starts, 150 innings," Ryu said, through a translator.

"He completely understands where we as an organization want to be. Coming off surgery, to expect him to make 32 starts is highly unrealistic anyway," Roberts said. "On the back end, as an organization that's looking to play through October, there's really no reason to rush him."

Ryu, in the fourth year of a six-year, $36 million contract, agreed.

"It wasn't really a surprise to me [to not be ready by opening day]," Ryu said. "Pace by pace, this will be good for me for a long run through October."

As for the more short-term plan for Ryu, he added changeups to his bullpen session repertoire on Friday for the first time. He will likely increase intensity and velocity in his next bullpen session, then perhaps introduce breaking balls after that.

"He held velocity, and the volume, he's right there," Roberts said. "For us it's more about how he comes out of it the next day, and he feels good."