Ryu gets mixed results in Dodgers debut

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
10:50
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It might take Hyun-Jin Ryu a little time to figure out how to pitch effectively in the major leagues.

For one thing, every time he communicates with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt or catcher A.J. Ellis between innings, he has to do so through interpreter Martin Kim. Each conversation, no matter how trivial, takes twice as long. It's not exactly a breezy way to build rapport.

Hyun-Jin Ryu
Harry How/Getty ImagesHyun-Jin Ryu gave up 10 hits in his Dodgers debut, but found a way to get out of trouble most of the game.
"Ryu's very patient waiting for the translation," Ellis said after the Dodgers lost to the Giants, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. "We're building the relationship, the communication, but I really like the direction it's going."

One message that Ryu figures to receive in the next 24 hours or so will come from manager Don Mattingly, who wasn't all that thrilled with his effort level after grounding out to third base in the sixth inning. Ryu barely advanced out of the batter's box before he was thrown out by Pablo Sandoval. Mattingly said he planned to discuss the matter with his new pitcher, the first player jumping directly from the Korean Baseball Organization to the majors.

"He's slow down to first base, but he can't be that slow," Mattingly said.

Ryu apologized to Dodgers fans for his effort on that play, saying he was "embarrassed," after hearing some boos from the crowd. Pitchers in Korea don't bat and Ryu said he was just trying to conserve some energy after realizing the ball was mishit.

His pitching didn't merit boos. He worked hard to keep some innings from caving in on him, getting through 6 1/3 innings despite allowing 10 hits.

His postgame media conference in a room packed with South Korean reporters took on an aggressive tone. One Korean reporter asked him whether he thought the umpires were "testing" him. Another wondered whether he felt let down by the Dodgers' defense, particularly two crucial throwing errors by shortstop Justin Sellers. Another asked him if he was upset that Mattingly pulled him in the seventh inning with pitcher Madison Bumgarner coming to the plate.

Ryu's answers to the above questions were, "No," "no," and "no." He was humble in his postgame comments, saying, "I got hit around a lot," and "I've only been here three months. I think it will be OK."

The Dodgers have a lot invested in whether it is. They signed Ryu for $36 million in December, not long after paying his former team $25.7 million for the right to negotiate with him.

What they've seen so far is a pitcher with confidence and a good idea about what he's doing, but far from overpowering stuff. Ryu worked at about 90 mph with his fastball, often attempting to catch part of the outside corner, a style typical of finesse left-handers.

"I don't think he's a guy that's going to not give up hits," Mattingly said. "I think he's going to give up his share of hits. He pitched well, so that's not a concern."

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Zack Greinke
WINS ERA SO IP
3 2.76 21 16
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Uribe .375
HRA. Gonzalez 5
RBIA. Gonzalez 15
RA. Gonzalez 11
OPSJ. Uribe .978
ERAH. Ryu 1.93
SOH. Ryu 25