Heading into Spring Training last year the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to have a surplus of starting pitchers. However, there were question marks, specifically Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Both pitchers were coming off season-ending surgeries in 2015. McCarthy underwent Tommy John, while Ryu had the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder repaired. Although there was initial hope with Ryu, neither projected to make a full recovery by Opening Day of the 2016 season.
The 29-year-old left-hander suffered multiple setbacks during the rehab process, and didn’t take the mound for the Dodgers until July.
Injury effectively wiped out a second consecutive season for Ryu. Elbow tendinitis required a stint on the disabled list in July, and in September he underwent an arthroscopic left elbow debridement.
Now four months removed from surgery, Ryu said he is pain free, according to Yoo Jee-Ho of Yonhap News Agency:
“Right now, I’d say I am in better shape than I normally would be at the start of spring training,” Ryu told reporters at Incheon International Airport. “I threw four bullpen sessions [sic] while training in Japan. I have no pain at the moment.”
The encouraging update comes three weeks after Ryu traveled to Japan to continue rehabbing and training. But, there may be reason for some caution, as Ryu was similarly optimistic when he reported early for Spring Training last year.
In November, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi conceded the club could not fully plan on Ryu being their No. 3 starter, but added the South Korean native would factor into the rotation if he managed to remain healthy.
From 2013-14, Ryu went a combined 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 1.19 WHIP, throwing 344 innings and making 56 starts. Ryu allowed six runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings in his lone start last season.
Dodgers pitchers and catchers aren’t due at Camelback Ranch until Feb. 15, with their first workout scheduled the following day.