Dave Roberts, A.J. Ellis and Hyun-Jin Ryu on his return

In spite of the lackluster results, the Dodgers were happy to have Hyun-Jin Ryu back. Here are some quotes following last night’s game.

Getting him back out there was a victory in itself,” Dave Roberts said. “I think the bigger answer will be how he feels tomorrow and the next day going forward. But to see Ryu take the mound tonight was great.” 

A.J. Ellis, who caught Ryu in his return, was “so excited to see him out there on the mound. It’s been such a long time. He’s somebody who I’ve built a good rapport with … just for me personally, to be out there again, 60 feet away from him, it’s a great, great feeling. I’m proud of him.”

Roberts was encouraged by Ryu’s stuff. “I thought he threw the ball well. The fastball had some life to it … good arm speed with the changeup … throwing the breaking ball … we’re encouraged. If he responds with normal soreness, that’d be a good thing.”

Ellis had similar commentary about what he saw from Ryu last night. He felt Ryu’s fastball and changeup were “very similar to what he was, and what he is. The breaking ball’s kind of the pitch he was developing towards the end of his time before he got injured, but it’s gonna take some time to get those back … We’ll see Hyun-Jin of 2013-14 really soon.”

Ryu felt both physically and emotionally good following his 2016 debut. “Overall, I felt really great, even though I gave up a few runs. My shoulder felt really great … As I pitched more, I felt better.” He also felt better “mentally” as his outing went on. 

Ryu’s fastball velocity topped out at 92 MPH, and sat around 89-91 for most of the first four innings. However, it dipped down to 85-86 MPH in his fifth and final inning of work. “I thought he just he got a little tired,” Roberts said. “But through 80 pitches, something like that, he held the velocity, and he was good.” Ryu threw 89 total pitches last night.

Ryu would like to see his velocity increase, and he thinks that will come with time. “Even from the beginning, I was never a first half pitcher — always second half — coming back with strong velocity,” said Ryu. “Compared to when I was healthy, of course my velocity is a little down, but again, as I play more games, I think I’ll get that back up.”

When asked about whether or not Ryu’s velocity should be expected to increase as the season goes on, Ellis said, “What he had to work with today was plenty good enough to get out a lot of major league hitters out. Any increase in velocity would just be a bonus for us.”

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On a night when the Dodger offense didn’t do much, Roberts had to tip his cap to the opposing pitcher. He noted that Drew Pomeranzgot us earlier this year” as well. “He’s had a really nice year, he’s had a real nice first half. Baserunners were hard to come by tonight, and we just really couldn’t get any momentum.” In terms of whether or not yesterday’s 14-inning game was the reason why the Dodgers couldn’t manage anything off of the San Diego southpaw: “That might’ve had something to do with it, but we’ve played extra inning games before … you gotta give credit to Pomeranz.”

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Roberts said he was grateful for Carlos Frias‘ lengthy relief outing. “Carlos coming in here in this situation, had to eat up innings for the ‘pen, and he did exactly what we needed — to reset the bullpen.” The Dodgers are likely to announce a move today that involves a reliever having his spot on the 25-man roster replaced with a position player after the team played with a three-man bench last night. Roberts wouldn’t specify who either might be.

I asked A.J. for his thoughts on Frias, but got cut off by Chase Utley, so I guess we’ll never know how Ellis felt about Frias’ performance besides that his four innings of work were “huge.”

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I asked Roberts about the two nice catches Trayce Thompson made last night (both to rob Matt Kemp), and how he felt about the way Thompson was filling in for Joc Pederson in center. Roberts is pleased with Thompson’s progression. “Trayce had a rocky go of it early, some misplays, but he’s a good defender, and you just see him out there in center field, he feels very confident, and made a couple of really nice plays, and has the last few weeks. It’s nice to see him get his confidence.”

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She now writes for The Hardball Times, FanGraphs and Sporting News, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She recently earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.