Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches 2 scoreless innings in first game back since shoulder injury

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hyun-Jin Ryu took a big step in his long comeback from left shoulder injury.

A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation before surgery in May 2015, Ryu struck out two in two scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday in his first exhibition game this year.

Ryu, who turns 30 in two weeks, has pitched in only one regular-season game since his surgery two years ago.

He allowed one hit, struck out two and walked none Saturday. Ryu downplayed his quick afternoon as just the first of many outings toward returning at full strength, but said it was nice to pitch in front of a large crowd for the first time in a while. He ended his second inning by snagging a comebacker and throwing out Shane Robinson.

"As a starting pitcher, it was painful to not be on the mound," Ryu said through a translator. "The most important thing is that I'm healthy. ... There's a few more games that I'm probably going to pitch in spring training. So if I just focus on each game at a time, I'm pretty sure good results will follow."

Signed to a $36 million, six-year contract that runs through the 2018 season, Ryu had 28 wins combined in 2013 and 2014, throwing 344 innings with ERAs of 3.00 and 3.38.

He had surgery in May 2015 to repair a torn labrum and was slowed last spring training by a groin problem. He returned July 7 against San Diego and allowed six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, with his fastball averaging 90 mph. He went on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis and had arthroscopic elbow surgery in September.

After leaving Saturday's outing, Ryu threw 40 pitches during a simulated inning in the bullpen. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Ryu's fastball velocity was in the 87-91 mph range.

"That's really not my point of emphasis. I'm more concerned about my command and other things," Ryu said.

Roberts was pleased.

"The fastball life was good, changed locations with it. Slider, good. Threw a couple of good breaking balls, and then the change," the manager said. "If you could have envisioned any better outing, I think this was it."

Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda head a rotation that could include 20-year-old Julio Urias, whose innings may be limited in what figures to be his first full big league season. Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood are competing for the final spot, and Ryu might not be a contender just yet.

"With him, we're being very deliberate," Roberts said. "With the depth that we have with our starting pitching, there's really no rush. We just would rather make sure that he feels good and continues to improve."