PHOENIX — The Dodgers were very deliberate with Hyun-jin Ryu this spring, handling him with kid gloves after two injury-plagued years, but the left-hander continued to fight his way back and on Monday reached his goal. He’s in the starting rotation on opening day.
Dave Roberts made the announcement after Ryu threw 77 pitches in five innings on Monday against the White Sox. Ryu allowed a pair of home runs, but was otherwise sharp, striking out four and walking none.
“He just kind of kept plugging away, and showed he’s healthy. He built his innings up,” Roberts said. “It just gives the confidence that he can give us quality starts when he goes out there.”
Ryu missed a year and a half after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, then missed the final three months of 2016 with elbow soreness that eventually required arthroscopic surgery. He made one major league start in the last two seasons combined.
“I’m definitely healthier than I expected at the start of spring training,” Ryu said. “From how I feel right now, I’m definitely confident I can pitch every five days for this team.”
Ryu will next pitch on Saturday in the Freeway Series against the Angels, in tandem with Brandon McCarthy, who is expected to start. It will be a shortened start for both, roughly three innings. The Dodgers are okay with Ryu stretching out to five innings this spring instead of six.
“With us and the starters, there will be ways to give Hyun-jin a blow here and there,” Roberts said. “With where he’s at right now going five innings, we feel that’s enough to start the season, with his experience.”
“I threw 77 pitches today. I felt good enough to throw 80-90 pitches, but I don’t think I’m that far behind,” Ryu said. “With where I’m at right now, I feel I’m ready to go.”
The other spot
Ryu will take one spot in the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. The other spot will be one of McCarthy or Alex Wood, though Roberts said both will be on the team; one in the rotation and one in the bullpen.
Wood will start on Tuesday against the Reds in Goodyear, with Roberts managing that game to get a final spring look at him. The Dodgers also play another split squad game at Camelback Ranch against the Padres.