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Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin sharp in scoreless spring start

By Yonhap

Published : March 16, 2021 - 09:26

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In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the first inning of a major league spring training game at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday. (Reuters-Yonhap) In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the first inning of a major league spring training game at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
In just his second spring training start, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays already looked to be in midseason form.

The South Korean left-hander tossed four shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday (local time). Ryu struck out four and gave up just two hits.

He was supposed to get his pitch count up to 60 pitches over those four innings but ended up needing just 49 pitches -- 38 of them strikes. Ryu threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen and that put the Jays' No. 1 starter exactly where he wants to be ahead of April 1 Opening Day.

"My pitch count has been building up slowly, and I should be ready come the start of the regular season a couple of weeks from now," Ryu said in his postgame Zoom session. "Today, I pitched exactly the way I'd prepared."

Ryu made his spring debut on March 5 and then threw in an unofficial intrasquad scrimmage before taking on the Tigers.

Ryu struck out two batters in the breezy first inning and retired the side in order again in the second inning.

He then gave up consecutive singles to begin the third inning, before sitting down the next three batters, two via strikeouts. Then it was a flyout-groundout-groundout in the clean fourth inning.

Ryu touched 92.2 mph with his fastball, well above his 2020 season average of 89.8 mph, and his changeup, the bread-and-butter pitch in his arsenal, also looked sharp.

Ryu said he didn't want to repeat the shaky start to the season from 2020, whose proceedings were interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ryu had ramped up in spring training and then had to shut down in March before building back up during summer camp in July. Two of Ryu's worst regular season starts in 2020 came in his first two outings of the season, over which he allowed a combined eight runs on 13 hits in nine innings. He still went on to finish third in the American League Cy Young Award race, with a 5-2 record and a 2.69 ERA in 12 starts.

"This year, I want to be well prepared on the mound right from the first game," Ryu said. "Things are going really well this spring. It is easier for me to manage my workload because spring training has been moving along on schedule." (Yonhap)