As the least-established, most-unknown quantity in the Dodgers' eight-man scrum of starting pitchers jockeying for the five available seats this spring, Hyun-Jin Ryu has all the certainty he needs.
Asked Wednesday if he was worried about having a spot in the rotation when the season started, Ryu hesitated only long enough for the question to be translated. "Not at all," he said in Korean.
The answer did not surprise A.J. Ellis, who caught Ryu in a game for the first time Wednesday. Ryu pitched into the fourth inning, holding the Indians scoreless until reliever Matt Palmer allowed two inherited runners to score after Ryu left the game. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five (including the side in order in the third inning, all on called third strikes).
"One thing I keep reminding myself and everyone else – he was the best baseball player in his country," Ellis said. "So he has all the reason in the world to be confident, believe in himself and what he's done.
“And until we see otherwise, we – and me as a catcher – are going to help him do what he needs to do to get ready for the season.”
That apparently does not include throwing bullpen sessions between Cactus League appearances like the seven other starters have been doing. Ryu did not throw between starts in Korea and the Dodgers have so far deferred to him, letting him follow the personalized program with which he is most comfortable.
"It's like – you have a way you've done things for a long time in baseball. But he's done things too. He's had success," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "To me, if he's having success, I don't want to fight him. That's really the bottom line for me."
Mattingly said he liked what he saw from Ryu this time. "Just the mix (of pitches)," he said. "He was able to throw the fastball, looked like he threw it where he wanted. Every once in awhile, you could tell he was missing a spot and he knew he missed it. But he flipped that slow curveball in there, he used the slider today, the changeup to get back in counts."
Ryu backs up confidence with solid outing for Dodgers
Orange County Register | Mar 8