Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Hyun-Jin Ryu settles in nicely
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- After the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night, Dodgers employees ushered pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu back onto the field, where he traded memorabilia and posed for photo ops with global YouTube sensation Psy, known in the two mens' native South Korea as Park Jae-Sang.
The Dodgers have been duly impressed with Hyun-Jin Ryu's work on the mound -- not so much with his raw stuff, but with his craftiness.
Afterward, Psy -- his hair lacquered down, dark sunglasses over his eyes -- burst into the Dodgers' clubhouse with "Gangnam Style" blaring, prompting an uproar from Dodgers players. It was a bit of a circus. Imagine if the Dodgers had lost.
"I'm just really thankful that the game turned out the way it did. It would have been a really different situation if it had gone the other way," Ryu said through an interpreter afterward.
Everybody was in the mood for a little bouncy Korean pop music because of Ryu. He zapped the hangover from Monday's miserable 12-2 loss and buzzed through a tired and befuddled Rockies lineup, piling up 12 strikeouts.
Some people thought Ryu would struggle with the transition to a tougher league and a different culture. If anything, he's taking it to major league hitters, not the other way around.
Ryu touched 93 mph a couple of times early in the game, setting a tone that allowed him to use changeups and curveballs to greater effect later. The Dodgers have been impressed -- not so much with his raw stuff, but with his craftiness.
He often works backward. He can use breaking balls to get back in counts. He's hard to predict. For a 26 year old who was basically the Randy Johnson of the Korean Baseball Organization, he has shown surprising finesse.
"Especially if you get a younger guy who doesn't understand how the guy yo-yo's you a little bit, it's going to be trouble for you," manager Don Mattingly, seeing it from a hitter's perspective, said.
Ryu signed with the Dodgers just four months ago. He has made six major league starts, going 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA and 46 strikeouts in them. He might not feel entirely acclimated yet, but he's showing no signs of culture shock.
"I realize I'm in America every time I start. Every time I take the mound, I see how big these parks are and how many people come out," Ryu said. "But everything's been going well, and I'm really happy."