GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While the Los Angeles Dodgers still are not saying officially that Hyun-Jin Ryu will not be on the Opening Day roster, more clues have been revealed about how the club will handle the recovering left-hander.
Ryu, who underwent shoulder surgery in May to fix a labrum tear, has been throwing regular bullpen sessions but his timetable is expected to be much different than his teammates’.
“I would say he’s certainly behind and that’s kind of by design in the sense that we don’t want to push him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But I would say a couple of weeks is fair, give or take a couple of weeks.”
At that point Roberts laughed at the vagueness of his statement, but the point was clear. The Dodgers are taking things slow and will get a better idea of where he stands later in the spring.
Even if Ryu is not ready, the Dodgers could start the season with four left-handers in the rotation, as Alex Wood is in a good position to grab a rotation spot by the end of spring training.
While Ryu did play long-toss Monday and then participated in a 30-pitch bullpen session, just like his teammates, he figures to remain at that stage while other starters progress to throwing live batting practice in the coming days. Roberts admitted as much.
“And that’s kind of by design with how we put together this roster,” he said. “We’ve added depth and to expect him to throw 200 innings coming off surgery is unrealistic. Now we have the luxury that whenever he is ready then he can contribute to the end of the season. That is a luxury we have and for all of us, talking to Ryu, takes some of the anxiety out of it.”
By waiting until the latter stages of May, it would give Ryu a full year to recover from surgery and would most certainly keep him under 200 innings.
The Dodgers could also use off days to build in extra rest between some of Ryu’s starts, although they might also want to monitor the innings count of Kenta Maeda as he transitions from Japan. The club seems less inclined to go outside the box, like dividing the fifth starter spot among multiple pitchers.
“That’s definitely getting ahead of ourselves,” Roberts said. “I think that every day, as we get closer to the season, it will become more clear. We will see about that.”