Blue Jays’ Ryu Hyun-jin gives up 1 run in 3 innings in minor league rehab game

July 5, 2023

 Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays has taken an important step in his recovery from last year’s elbow operation, giving up one run in three innings in a minor league rehab appearance.

Ryu pitched for the Blue Jays’ Rookie ball affiliate in the Florida Complex League in Dunedin, Florida, on Tuesday, and struck out five batters and allowed four hits against an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The South Korean left-hander did not walk a batter.

This was Ryu’s first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair elbow ligament damage in June 2022. The 36-year-old has been targeting a late July return, following the All-Star break. reported that Ryu threw 42 pitches and his fastball sat around 87 to 88 miles per hour, not too far off his average from a season ago.

Pitchers typically miss about a year after Tommy John surgery. This was Ryu’s second elbow operation, following the first one in high school in South Korea.

The Blue Jays have been in desperate need of starting pitching. Their Opening Day starter, Alek Manoah, was sent to the minors in June after a dismal performance to begin the 2023 season, and that left the team with four starters. The Blue Jays have had to rely on reliever Trevor Richards as the opener on a few occasions.

The Blue Jays announced Tuesday that Manoah will rejoin the big league club and start against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, following two minor league outings. The team hadn’t set a specific target for Manoah’s return and it comes earlier than initially anticipated.

Ryu’s return would give the Blue Jays six big league starters, a luxury they didn’t have at the onset of the season. Prior to Manoah’s demotion, they had used just five starters — a combination of luck with players’ health and their lack of starting pitching depth.

Ryu is in the final year of his four-year, US$80 million contract with the Blue Jays.

In the 2020 season, reduced to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryu went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 12 starts and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. His ERA ballooned to 4.37 in 2021, when he was 14-10 in 31 starts and pitched to a 5.50 ERA in the second half.

Then last year, Ryu made only six starts before shutting things down to undergo elbow surgery. He finished with a 2-0 record and a 5.67 ERA.