Dodgers’ Ryu embraces bigger role

March 12, 2014

Rangers’ Choo misses another game due to nagging injuries

Orioles’ Yoon faces tough competition after being slowed by visa problems

Ryu Hyun-jin has looked sharp in his three preseason starts. (AP)

Ryu Hyun-jin has looked sharp in his three preseason starts. (AP)

By Baek Byung-yeul

After a successful rookie year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryu Hyun-jin is out to prove he has staying power.

The 26-year-old lefty, who went 14-8 with a 3.00 earned run average (ERA) in his first season out of the Korea Baseball Organization, is expected to take a bigger role this season with his club, regarded a World Series contender.

Ryu’s dazzling changeup and ability to throw different pitches for strikes made him one of the better starters in the National League last year. But hitters, armed with a full season of experience and scouting reports, may now have a better idea of how to attack him.

Talking to reporters after a spring training outing against the Oakland Athletics in Arizona on Tuesday, Ryu said he wasn’t concerned about the possibilities of a sophomore slump. It was a predictable response as his confidence and unflappability have always been as critical as assets to Ryu as his arm.

“There is not much I can do about what others are worrying about me,” he said, after limiting the Athletics to one run over five innings.  ”Compared to where I was at the start of last season, I think I have gained more trust among the manager, coaches and teammates. I know what is expected from me and I am doing my best to live up to those expectations.”

Ryu arrived at training camp overweight last year. He has been preparing for the new season more diligently. He spent the off season in Korea training before the start of spring baseball. He says he lost about 10 pounds compared to his mid-season weight last year, and has been working to improve the movement on his curveball. The Dodgers believe Ryu will benefit from another quality breaking pitch to complement his fastball-changeup combo.

Ryu will wrap up his spring training schedule with a start against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. He will start the Dodgers’ second game of the regular season against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground of Australia.

While Ryu seems fit and sharp, Shin-Soo Choo, the new $130 million man for the Texas Rangers, has been dealing with nagging problems, including a sore left elbow that forced him out of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

Yoon Suk-min, the Korean rookie for the Baltimore Orioles, finally solved his visa problems, but faces tough competition to find a spot in the team’s starting rotation. Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman and Wei-Yin Chen are likely to occupy the first three spots. Yoon will have to edge the likes of Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, Kevin Gausman, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson and Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who recently came out of retirement, for one of the last two spots.

One Comment

  1. 2017

    November 29, 2017 at 7:56 AM

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