It's a good thing Korean left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu knows just who Sandy Koufax is. Otherwise, he might have wondered who the old guy trying to change his curveball grip was.
Koufax, in Dodgers camp as a guest instructor for 10 days this spring, took Ryu aside after his throwing session Tuesday and offered some advice. The Hall of Famer suggested that Ryu – a five-time strikeout leader in the Korean Baseball Organization – hold the ball deeper in his hand, letting it spin out rather than pushing it out with his thumb.
"I know quite well," Ryu said through an interpreter when asked if he knew of Koufax's career and iconic status. "Sandy Koufax is a legend in Korea also. Everyone in Korea knows about Sandy Koufax.
"I know he did not have as long a career but he was able to achieve greatly."
Ryu said Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told him he would have "a special session" with Koufax during his next scheduled bullpen session. Ryu is scheduled to throw again Thursday and then make his spring debut by pitching an inning in Sunday's exhibition game against the White Sox.
"I haven't experimented with it yet so I don't know if it's going be difficult or easy," Ryu said of Koufax's proposed grip adjustment. "You always want to learn from the best. I want to pick up what Sandy Koufax has to offer. Also, I need to have a feel for that pitch. Just because it worked for Sandy Koufax doesn't mean it will work for me."
Ryu might also want to let Koufax know that this whole throwing left-handed thing is kind of new to him. Ryu said he does everything right-handed except pitch. He did not take up baseball until age 10 when his father (a rugby player) bought him a left-hander's glove.
"He thought there was more advantage to being left-handed in baseball," Ryu said. "I never asked him why (he thought that was true)."
Ryu gets advice on new pitching grip from Koufax
Orange County Register | Feb 20