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Hyun-jin Ryu pain free as he heads to spring training

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LHP has arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow in September

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There was a decent bit of good news on Wednesday regarding Dodgers pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who said he was pain free before leaving for the United States to get ready for spring training.

Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News Agency has more:

“Right now, I'd say I am in better shape than I normally would be at the start of spring training," Ryu told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I threw four bullpen sessions a day while training in Japan. I have no pain at the moment."

The four bullpen sessions a day seems like something that may have been lost in translation, since that seems impossible for the healthiest of pitchers. It is much more likely that Ryu threw four bullpen sessions total in his three weeks training in Japan.

Ryu was training in Japan with Min-jae Jang, his former teammate with the Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball Organization, reported by Yonhap back on Jan. 3.

"He wants to get into better form before leaving for Arizona in late January," Ryu’s agency said at the time.

Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona on Feb. 15.

Ryu is coming off of arthroscopic surgery, a procedure he had in September to clear out loose debris in his left elbow.

It has been a trying two years for the left-hander, who missed a season and a half after left shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2015. Ryu has pitched in just one major league game in the last two years, totaling 4⅔ innings.

Because of that relative inactivity, Ryu has been a forgotten man of sorts, so much so that I listed nine pitchers on the Dodgers major league starting depth chart on Monday and neglected to note Ryu, who was one of the best pitchers in the National League in his first two years in Los Angeles.

Ryu in 2013-2014 was 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 56 starts, with 293 strikeouts and 78 walks in 344 innings. He turns 30 in March.

It is important to note that Ryu at this time last year also expressed optimism as he departed for spring training, though reading between the lines it was clear he was going to take it slow and likely wouldn’t be ready until May or so. But it turned out that even that estimate proved to be too conservative, as he didn’t pitch in the majors until July 7.

It is understandable if the Dodgers take things slow with Ryu again this spring, making sure he is 100 percent or close to it before he is back in the rotation. But whatever the odds of his return to a major league mound, that Ryu is pain free at this point is a step in the right direction at the very least.