PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the highest payroll in the major leagues, could be days away from being at full strength for the first time in years.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will come off the disabled list to pitch Wednesday night in New York. Ryu has been out since April 27 with some shoulder inflammation, but he was able to bounce back without the need for a minor-league rehab assignment.
The Dodgers were second in the majors in use of the DL last season, but when Ryu returns, their only injured players will be pitchers rehabbing from 2013 Tommy John surgery, Chad Billingsley and Scott Elbert, and even those two could be days away from starting minor-league rehab assignments.
Ryu's return will push left-hander Paul Maholm to the bullpen and might force the team to demote one of its key relievers, Chris Withrow, who is the only pitcher in the bullpen who retains a minor-league option. The past two seasons, Withrow is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA. The Dodgers' bullpen leads the National League in walks and has been a major disappointment so far.
"At that point, it's going to be a tough roster decision when we get there," Mattingly said.
Ryu was 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA when he went on the DL. The Dodgers are hopeful that his return, coupled with ace Clayton Kershaw's return two weeks ago, will cut down on the overuse of the bullpen, which has pitched more innings than any relief corps in baseball. The Dodgers have had to use catcher Drew Butera as a pitcher in two of their past three games going into Sunday afternoon's game in Arizona.