Posted on
Hanwha Eagles starter Ryu Hyun-jin walks off the mound during the bottom of the fourth inning of a Korea Baseball Organization Opening Day game against the LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, March 23. Yonhap

After battling some jitters and struggling with his command in his season debut, Hanwha Eagles ace Ryu Hyun-jin vowed on Sunday to be sharper in his next outing.

Ryu, the 2019 National League All-Star for the Los Angeles Dodgers, marked his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) homecoming Saturday against the LG Twins in Seoul. In his sixth career KBO Opening Day start, though, Ryu took the loss after giving up five runs on six hits and three walks in only 3 2/3 innings, as the Twins took the game 8-2 at Jamsil Baseball Stadium.

Ryu first pitched for the Eagles from 2006 to 2012. And after 11 years in Major League Baseball (MLB), Ryu rejoined the Eagles on an eight-year, 17 billion-won ($12.6 million) contract in February, becoming the highest-paid player in the KBO.

His return generated plenty of preseason buzz, and Ryu’s start on Saturday drew a sold-out crowd of 23,750.

Ryu, however, didn’t have his usual command. He threw nine straight fastballs in the three-up, three-down first inning but had trouble locating his secondary pitches in later innings.

He couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, and the last three batters he faced all hit singles.

“I was a bit nervous. This felt different than a preseason game,” Ryu said in a press conference at Jamsil the day after his start. “I wanted to do well because this was the first game of the new season.”

Ryu threw 45 fastballs, 18 curveballs, 14 changeups and nine cutters. He touched 150 kph with his fastball, which is a bit faster than his usual velocity, but Ryu said how hard he threw didn’t really matter.

“I felt great physically, and the weather was perfect too,” Ryu said of pitching on a sunny, warm afternoon. “And this game reminded me how important command is for pitchers. Velocity is not that important. I think my fastball was pretty good early on, but I left some pitches over the middle of the plate in my last inning. And I didn’t have great command of my breaking balls.”

Ryu said he will take this outing as a learning experience and added, “I am not happy with how many pitches I threw. I will have to be more efficient.”

Ryu also thanked Twins players for showing him respect at the start of the game. Their leadoff man, Park Hae-min, took off his helmet and bowed to Ryu before his first at-bat. Park later told reporters that he did so to thank Ryu for making Korea proud with his success in MLB. Other Twins players lined up outside the dugout in the first inning in their show of appreciation too.

“I felt really grateful,” Ryu said. “At first, I didn’t know why they were standing outside the dugout. When I found out later, I was really thankful for what they 메이저 did.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *