After undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2015, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was expected to make a full recovery come Opening Day of the 2016 season.
There was cautious optimism heading into Spring Training last year, but Ryu suffered a setback and began the season on the disabled list. While it was thought that Ryu could make his 2016 debut by May, he did not take the mound for the Dodgers until July.
He was limited to just the one start, in which Ryu allowed six runs on eight hits in just 4.2 innings pitched against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Discomfort in Ryu’s elbow led to another stint on the disabled list and ultimately season-ending elbow surgery. Naturally, there are questions surrounding Ryu’s health and his ability to avoid injury.
However, that doesn’t appear to be of much concern to the 29-year-old, who believes he’s in better standing this year than he was during Spring Training last year, according to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press:
“Compared to last spring, I feel kind of different,” Ryu said. “I guess it’s fair to say that I feel confident about my body and my health. Last year, because I was coming back from surgery and everything, I might have doubted myself, and maybe that showed through. But during the offseason, I worked really hard, and then because of all the things I put into it, I feel confident in my ability and my body condition.”
Ryu threw his first live batting practice of the spring on Sunday, successfully getting over 25 pitches without any ill-effects the following day. He is one of several pitchers competing to round out the Dodgers’ rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda.
Ryu acknowledged he has an uphill battle to climb, but expressed a belief he can be part of the picture by the time the Dodgers open the 2017 season.