Hyun-Jin Ryu’s clubhouse demeanor after his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform was much the same as it was before: Even-keeled with a dose of humor.
Ryu threw a scoreless third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. He got Blake Tekotte to ground out on a ball hit slowly back to the mound. He struck out Gordon Beckham on a changeup. He allowed a triple to DeWayne Wise that sliced into the right-field corner, then got Jeff Keppinger to fly out to left field to end the inning.
“My goal honestly was not to walk anybody today,” Ryu said. “I guess I succeeded.”
Ryu said his target was 25 pitches, but he was told to go to the bullpen to throw his final nine pitches rather than go out for the fourth inning.
Of his 16 pitches, only one was a mistake. Coincidentally it was the only curveball he threw. It hung in the air, over the plate belt-high, and Wise took advantage. Had Wise rounded third base rather than sliding, he might have looked up to see Nick Punto bobble Andre Ethier‘s relay throw in shallow right field and been able to score.
“The ball slipped a little bit, so it actually went a little higher than I thought,” said Ryu, noting that the ball felt slicker today than what he was used to. “That’s the reason why I looked upset.”
Dodgers special advisor Sandy Koufax offered Ryu some advice on how to grip his curveball earlier in the week. Evidently it’s still a work in progress.
“I guess it didn’t really work today,” he said of the curve. “I’ll continue practicing.”
Catcher Tim Federowicz said the curveball was the exception to the rule. He and Ryu spoke briefly before the game, and Ryu agreed to throw whatever Federowicz called.
“He definitely knows how to make adjustments,” the catcher said. “When he left a fastball up the next one was there (in a better location). That’s how you know a guy knows how to pitch.”
In their pregame talk, Federowicz said the language barrier wasn’t an issue. He and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt have tried to emphasize short phrases that will help Ryu in the middle of a game.
“Slow your tempo, get the ball down, stay back — things that are easy to learn,” Federowicz said.