Everyone doubted him, but he overcame… ‘Monster Ryu Hyun-jin’ won the battle against himself

June 2, 2022 (hereafter Korean time) remained a day that he did not want to think of for ‘Korean Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays). 메이저놀이터 Starting in the home game against the Chicago White Sox, he threw only 58 pitches and gave the mound to the bullpen. His reason was left elbow pain.

In the end, Ryu Hyun-jin was put on the injured list (IL) when elbow inflammation was discovered, and this game became Ryu Hyun-jin’s last appearance in the 2022 season. Last year was the first time he finished the season without playing 10 games for the first time since moving to Toronto, including 2020, when the schedule was shortened in the aftermath of Corona 19.

Moreover, the voice of concern was great in that Ryu Hyun-jin’s elbow injury was not the first. Ryu Hyun-jin, who suffered from an elbow for a long time, underwent surgery in 2004 while attending Dongsan High School and in 2016 while wearing a LA Dodgers uniform. Even in April of last year, as his elbow condition worsened, he held Ryu Hyun-jin’s ankle whenever it was important, such as leaving his seat for nearly a month.

In fact, Ryu Hyun-jin has built his own career even in his big and small crises. Ryu Hyun-jin, who won 14 wins for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014, announced a splendid revival with 14 wins in 2019, and after the 2019 season, signed a free agent contract with Toronto for a total of 80 million dollars (approximately 100.1 billion won) for 4 years. did.

Ryu Hyun-jin met the team’s expectations with an average ERA of 2.69 with 5 wins and 2 losses in 2020, the first year of the transfer, and 14 wins and 10 losses with an ERA of 4.37 the following year. His grades are also grades, but his presence was a great help to Toronto just by being able to play a part in the starting rotation.

Then, the ordeal of injury came to Ryu Hyun-jin, and surgery was inevitable. Even considering the fact that each player has a different recovery process, it usually takes more than a year to start a game due to the nature of elbow ligament joint surgery (Tommy John surgery). Considering Ryu Hyun-jin’s age, now in his mid-thirties, it was not certain that he would regain his former skills even if he had surgery.

The reaction of the local media was also cynical. At the time of the surgery, the American media ‘Sporting News’ said, “Ryu Hyun-jin is facing an important surgery that can have a decisive impact on the player’s life. If he undergoes Tommy John surgery, it will be difficult to return next season.” “Teams will be reluctant to sign him. It’s difficult to foresee his retirement, but most teams won’t want to take the risk.”

In addition, Canadian media CBC also said, “If Ryu Hyun-jin cannot play until the 2023 season, most teams are likely to be reluctant to sign with him. It is difficult to predict his retirement, but most teams will not want to take the risk.”

In this way, Ryu Hyun-jin underwent an elbow ligament joint surgery on June 19 last year, started a fight with himself in earnest, and poured everything into rehabilitation. In particular, wanting to overturn the negative outlook of the local media, he tried to improve his physical condition as a ‘starter’ by doing weight training and aerobic exercise while steadily gaining momentum, reducing late-night snacks and losing weight.

As a result, Ryu Hyun-jin started bullpen pitching in May and went into ‘practice mode’ in earnest, and following live pitching in June, he made four rehabilitation appearances in July. He gradually increased the number of pitches to 42, 37, and 66 in three appearances, and threw 85 pitches in six innings in his last rehab appearance against the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons on July 22. He was the highest number of pitches since surgery. In addition, Ryu Hyun-jin raised the maximum speed of the fastball to 90.8 miles per hour (about 146 km) and received a passing grade in terms of pitch.

Prior to the away game against the Dodgers on the 25th of last month, news of Ryu Hyun-jin joining the team raised expectations, and on the 27th he checked his condition with bullpen pitching. The Toronto club, which had finally completed all preparations, announced Ryu Hyun-jin as the starter for the home game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 2, and thus the return to the big league after a year and two months was confirmed. He proved to himself that the local media’s prediction that he would not be able to return within this year was wrong.

Of course, his first start wasn’t very good. He suffered his first loss of the season against Baltimore, giving up 9 hits (1 home run), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts and 4 runs in 5 innings. He struggled from the first inning to the second inning as he could hardly raise his speed at the beginning of the game, and the problem was that he allowed 4 long hits including 1 home run. It was encouraging that the power of his changeup and curveball, his main weapons, revived as he raised his fastball speed to 91 miles (about 146 km) starting in the third inning.

Compared to the first appearance, the second appearance was satisfactory. Ryu Hyun-jin took the mound as a starting pitcher in an away game against the Cleveland Guardians held at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA on the 8th.

However, in the bottom of the 4th inning, with 2nd out and 1st base, Oscar Gonzalez hit his right knee and collapsed, and Ryu Hyun-jin, who complained of pain after throwing 1st base, cautiously moved to the dugout. Fortunately, Ryu Hyun-jin had no bone problems and was diagnosed with a simple bruise, avoiding major injuries, but in the aftermath, he had to postpone his first win of the season again as he was unable to climb the mound after the 5th inning.

The only thing left for Ryu Hyun-jin, who gradually improved, was victory. It was the player himself who felt more responsible than anyone else. He started in a home game against the Chicago Cubs on the 14th and recorded 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and 2 runs in 5 innings, lowering his season ERA from 4.00 to 2.57.

He got off to a shaky start with a two-run double by Dansby Swanson in the top of the first inning, but found stability after the top of the second inning and perfectly sealed the Cubs lineup by pitching four consecutive scoreless innings. In addition, Hyun-jin Ryu, who led the team’s 11-4 victory, became the winning pitcher 444 days after the match against the Los Angeles Angels on May 27 last year.

Toronto coach John Schneider, who trusted and waited for Ryu Hyun-jin more than anyone else, praised him after the game, saying, “(Ryu Hyun-jin) is really amazing and doesn’t miss the flow. He knows how to suppress strong hits.” I reproduced the image I showed before) in three games after returning. It’s not easy to do that at that age, but it seems like an easy task to Ryu Hyun-jin,” applauding Ryu’s good fight.

Cubs coach David Ross, the “enemy captain,” also acknowledged Ryu Hyun-jin’s ability. In the past, coach Ross had two confrontations with Ryu Hyun-jin as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2013 when he was active, and Ryu Hyun-jin won by decision with no hits in two at-bats. Director Ross said, “Ryu Hyun-jin is a player who knows how to throw, although his restraint has not yet returned. The changeup is really amazing.” I went,” he looked back at the game.

Local media, who were once skeptical about Ryu Hyun-jin’s return, also focused on Ryu Hyun-jin’s good fight. Canadian media Sportsnet said, “Ryu Hyun-jin pitched smoothly, allowing only one hit and one walk over the next four innings after the first inning. He did not record an earned run in five innings, and there was no aftermath of a knee injury against Cleveland.” “With Alec Manoa being demoted to Triple A, Ryu Hyun-jin needs a place in the starting rotation, and he has to continue to make progress after returning from Tommy John surgery,” he said.

Another Canadian media outlet, The Toronto Sun, praised “Ryu Hyun-jin’s first win since he underwent elbow surgery, and through this game, he reached a stage where he can be sure,” and Keegan, the Toronto reporter for MLB.com, the official major league website. Matheson evaluated Ryu Hyun-jin’s performance on his social network service (SNS) and said, “Ryu Hyun-jin was solid, and it was a ‘Ryu Hyun-jin-like’ mound. As a 5th starter, he showed sufficient activity.”

Ryu Hyun-jin still showed off his strength and finally won the fight against himself. Colleagues and fans who have been waiting for his comeback are happy to see the successful return of ‘Korean Monster’.

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