- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A reporter asked Hyun-jin Ryu if he was worried about winning a spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation Wednesday and he responded, "Not at all."
If he keeps pitching the way he did Wednesday, he probably has nothing to worry about. Ryu struck out five Cleveland Indians batters in three innings, giving up two runs and three hits.
It wasn't dominance, but it was a step forward in what had been a shaky start to spring training for the Dodgers' new $36 million pitcher.
There isn't a whole lot of drama to Ryu's quest, frankly. The Dodgers can't send him down to Triple-A, because his contract requires his permission to do so, and it's doubtful they paid $60 million (including the posting fee) for a middle reliever. But he could calm some nerves if he pitches well this spring.
Manager Don Mattingly told reporters after Ryu's start that it was a step forward. Providing knowledge is what this spring is all about for Ryu, since the extent of the Dodgers' information on him had been gathered on video tape before this.
"Today, I think it shows this guy knows what he's doing," Mattingly said. "He knows how to change speeds. He pitches quick. For us, it's just hard -- we just wanted to see it.”
Fife still fighting
Meanwhile, Stephen Fife took advantage of an opportunity -- Zack Greinke was scratched because of flu -- by giving up only one run (on a Ramiro Pena home run) in four innings of the Dodgers' 10-2 win over the Mexican WBC team.
Fife pitched well in spot starts for the Dodgers last year, going 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA. He had to fight feeling dejected this winter when the Dodgers landed Ryu and Greinke, further pushing him down the depth chart to Triple-A.
"My second start last year against the Diamondbacks, the deadline passes. I think, 'Holy cow, I've got a big league job. Then they bring in Joe Blanton in a deal post-deadline," Fife said. "At that point, it was extremely obvious that these guys are here to win and they're going to make moves to better this club as fast as they can."