The Japanese broadcast network J Sports treated the Cactus League debut of Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda with reverence. The channel carried his outing live at 5 a.m. in Japan. Maeda greeted the news with a yawn.
"I would have been sleeping," Maeda said through an interpreter.
Those who slept through Maeda's outing missed two scoreless innings in the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Operating at a measured pace, Maeda faced six batters and completed his work in only 28 pitches. He struck out two.
Maeda gave up a double to infielder Phil Gosselin down the third base line in the first inning. Gosselin was thrown out by catcher Yasmani Grandal while trying to steal third base.
Gosselin tried to steal the base while the Dodgers were in a defensive shift, with the infielders bunched in between first base and second base. Corey Seager ranged from shortstop to tag out Gosselin.
Maeda said that in Japan teams use defensive shifts far less often than the Dodgers do.
"It was my first time experiencing that and seeing that happen in front of me, so I was a little bit surprised at first," Maeda said. He added, "I'm not too worried. I trust that the Dodgers are making the right decision, and my job is to be able to pitch and let the groundballs get to the infielders."
Maeda went to the bullpen to throw an additional inning after leaving the game. He will ramp up to three innings in his next outing, five days from Saturday. It is unclear if that one will be shown live in Japan. But Maeda said he has had little trouble adjusting.
"This is how I pitch, to be able to command all my pitches," he said. "I'm glad that I was able to pitch well today."
Hyun-Jin Ryu is not ready to pitch
Hyun-Jin Ryu remains shut down as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.
On Friday, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts expressed his belief that Ryu would throw a bullpen session this weekend. But Roberts indicated Saturday morning that Ryu was still being held back. Roberts insisted that "it's definitely not a setback," but part of the team's long-term strategy.
"There is no date [for Ryu to throw his next bullpen session]," Roberts said. "But the staff had a built-in, back-off period, where they can back off and then pick it up again. But there's no date when he's going to start throwing again."
When camp opened, the Dodgers said they expected Ryu to pitch in a Cactus League game. Ryu revealed his goals were to join the team in May, make 20 starts and pitch 150 innings.
Ryu experienced soreness in his left arm after throwing a bullpen session Feb. 26. He has not thrown since. Roberts said Ryu will resume the throwing program at some point.
"He's going to play catch," Roberts said. "And then shortly thereafter, he'll jump back on a mound."
Justin Turner is inching toward debut
Justin Turner could soon play in his first Cactus League game. He has been held back as he returns from microfracture surgery on his left knee. Roberts said Turner would play as a designated hitter for a game or two before playing third base.