Don’t expect Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu to return to the mound soon

Hyun-Jin Ryu had surgery to remove damaged tissue in his left elbow last year during his setback-laden attempt to return from shoulder surgery.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The Dodgers are prepared to play at least the first two months of the season without injured starter Hyun-Jin Ryu as he continues his progression back from shoulder surgery last May.

Manager Dave Roberts does not expect Ryu to pitch in a Cactus League game this spring, a goal the organization set when camp opened. Roberts also referred to Ryu’s own modest goals of 20 starts and 150 innings as “unrealistic.”

The Dodgers have not revealed a timetable for Ryu’s return this season, in part because it is difficult to create one. He has experienced a series of bumps in recovering from the procedure on his left labrum. Ryu sat out more than a week earlier in camp after an onset of soreness, which further delayed his throwing program.


“He was a guy that we penciled in at the top of the rotation,” Roberts said before a workout at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday. “You’ve got to adapt. Things are going to happen that we’re not too excited about. But obviously, that’s our reality.”

The Dodgers have maintained patience with Ryu. The team controls him through 2018, and does not want to risk a recurrence by rushing him onto the mound.

Ryu has not experienced any major setbacks or maladies while at Camelback Ranch, Roberts said. His slowed pace in recovery stemmed from the standard complications of major surgery for a player who had never undergone a similar procedure.

With Ryu shelved, the team must sift through more internal options as it copes with the loss of Brett Anderson to back surgery. Alex Wood has risen to the fourth spot in the team’s rotation. He is scheduled to start Thursday after being scratched from his previous outing because of soreness in his left forearm.

This spring has tested the Dodgers’ heavy investment in pitching depth. Competing for the fifth spot are Mike Bolsinger, Brandon Beachy and Zach Lee. Lee gave up a run in three innings of a 7-3 victory over Colorado on Wednesday.

Roberts hinted the team could be creative with the rotation at the season’s outset. There are two off days during the first three weeks.


“Ideally, you’d have one guy,” Roberts said. “But with the off days and who we’re playing, the opponent, what makes sense and how that guy is pitching, then that will help our decision.”

When the Dodgers arrived at Camelback Ranch a month ago, team officials could sound hopeful about Ryu’s ability to contribute this season. As time ticks away, Ryu remains far from joining his teammates.

“The throwing program takes time,” Roberts said. “For him, I’m not going to put a date on when he comes back.”

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes