There’s what they say and what they do, and then somewhere is the truth.
Which is where you’re kinda left after the Dodgers tried to explain away Hyun-Jin Ryu throwing an odd bullpen session Friday in Atlanta while Manager Don Mattingly, team doctor Neal ElAttrache and vice president of medical services Stan Conte looked on.
Husbands arriving home in the wee hours with lipstick on their collars and reeking of bourbon don’t look half as suspicious.
But back in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Dodgers said it was really nothing. Just Ryu – who normally never throws a bullpen session between starts – getting in a little extra work because it will be a week between his last game and his scheduled start Sunday in Game 3 of their division series with the Braves.
Ryu said there was no reason for concern.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Typically, when I rest longer than normal, I always squeeze in a bullpen in there just to make sure that my body is responding the way I want it to.”
Well, Ryu throwing a bullpen has happened, but maybe once or twice all year. And he’s had a half-dozen games during the regular season with at least six days between starts.
Ryu said there really was no reason the team doctor, the head of medical services and the manager all wanted to take in the session.
“There wasn't any specific reason,” Ryu said. “It was just to make sure that I could take the mound tomorrow. … and I think they were just there to check it out.”
You know, like they had reason to be concerned he might not be able to take the mound.
“We have no concerns about him,” Mattingly said. “He's starting [Sunday].”
So why all the eyes to observe a simple between-starts bullpen session?
“Stan's pretty much always watching him,” Mattingly said. “And I think Neal just loves being in the bullpen down there in Atlanta. It's nice. It's cool there, the whole thing. So it's good. Full disclosure.”
Red flags everywhere. You know how when some starts a sentence with, “To be honest” your immediate suspicion is to wonder if everything else they’d said was a tall tale?
That’s full disclosure. It immediately makes you suspect that it’s something far less.
Logic says they were down there because of some kind of Ryu concern. The rookie made 30 starts for the Dodgers in 2013, throwing 192 innings, which isn’t far off the 181 innings he averaged over the last seven seasons in South Korea.
I’m thinking ElAttrache has been in enough bullpens in his life and has no burning desire to hang there, no matter how really cool it is.
So the suspicion is Ryu is battling something and the Dodgers don’t feel it’s to their advantage to let the Braves know about it.
If Ryu does have something flare up and can’t go long Sunday, the Dodgers will have to turn to Chris Capuano and Chris Withrow as their long men. Capuano, who had a groin strain, threw a total of 3 2/3 innings in September. Withrow has thrown more than two innings in a game only once all season (three on July 10).
Maybe the medical concern was minor and Ryu goes lights out on the Braves. And maybe, they had real concern.