By: Brian Frank
Hyun Jin Ryu is very familiar with Sahlen Field. The Incheon, South Korea, native made ten starts for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons in downtown Buffalo, including starring in some historically significant games. Ryu started the first major-league game played at Sahlen Field in 2020 – and allowed just one run over six innings against the Miami Marlins. He also tossed seven shutout innings in the Blue Jays playoff-clinching victory over the New York Yankees in downtown Buffalo that same season. In his final start in Buffalo for the Blue Jays, he threw seven shutout innings against the Texas Rangers, allowing only three hits and a walk. Last Saturday, the thirty-five year-old lefty returned to the Queen City to make a rehab start for the Bisons as he recovers from left forearm inflammation.
Hyun Jin Ryu threw seventy-four pitches for the Herd. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles.
Ryu’s pitch target for his rehab start against the Durham Bulls was seventy-five. He ended up throwing seventy-four pitches over four innings of work.
“Physically I feel really good right now,” Ryu said after his outing. “I was projected to throw seventy-five today and got there, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.”
“I think in the majors and the minors, I’m sure that there isn’t a player that plays at one hundred percent condition,” Ryu said of his injury. “I’m sure that each and every one has their own minor hiccups or issues with their body and I think that’s just what it was. It was just something that appeared and affected the game for me.”
Ryu gave up a run in the first inning after Vidal Brujan stroked a leadoff double and came home on a single by Rene Pinto. He retired the side in order in the second inning on two strikeouts and a fly out, but his next inning would present more of a challenge. Brujan singled with one out in the third and came home on Jonathan Aranada’s triple down the right-field line. After Pinto reached on a throwing error which brought home Aranada, Ford Proctor hit a two-run home run over the center-field wall. Ryu came back out for a 1-2-3 fourth inning, striking out the final batter he faced.
Ryu on the Sahlen Field mound. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles.
He ended up allowing five runs, only two of which were earned, in four innings. He struck out six and didn’t allow a walk.
Bisons catcher Stevie Berman was behind the plate to catch the veteran lefty. Ryu said he was on the same page with Berman throughout his outing.
“I was quite comfortable with him,” Ryu said. “We discussed right before the game what I wanted to throw and how I wanted the catcher to sit and be placed.”
Bisons manager Casey Candaele was happy with Ryu’s performance, saying the veteran hurler accomplished what he’d set out to do in his rehab outing.
“He came out healthy and threw all his pitches and worked through what he needed to work through,” Candaele said. “Get him ready to get back to the big leagues – that’s the main thing that we want to accomplish here. I think he did what he needed to do.”
Candaele noted that young players on the Herd could learn from watching such an accomplished pitcher go about his work.
“I think just the professionalism of a guy whose thrown and been in the heat of battle in some tough games and came out on top,” Candale said. “I think just watching him go about his business is big for young players.”
Ryu noted that he was able to throw all his pitches effectively during the game. Asked about his velocity, which seemed to be per usual, the crafty lefty laughed and quipped, “I’ve never thrown hard."
Ryu wearing his familiar number 99. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles.