Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ryu Already A Winner (In Clubhouse Chopsticks Competition)

Hyun-Jin Ryu seems to be settling in just fine with the Dodgers, writes Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown, despite the translation difficulties, due to help from Dodger great Sandy Koufax:

With some effort, then, Ryu covered the ground required to throw his first live batting practice of the spring and therefore with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who 2½ months ago sprung for the $36 million contract on top of the $25.7 million posting fee for Ryu. And he was fine. It's February and, generally speaking about February, as long as a pitcher's arm does not fly from his shoulder, spin like a copter blade and take out Tommy Lasorda, the day is at best – and worst – fine.

The stone-faced Dodgers lined the back of the batting cage to watch, from Don Mattingly to Mark McGwire to Sandy Koufax and others, and afterward agreed the kid had some life in that arm, some deception in that delivery and some more than reasonable pitches. Later, Mattingly said Ryu reminded him in some ways – body shape, ease of delivery – of David Wells, the old doughy-bodied lefty with the easy delivery. And that, too, would be fine, though it is way too early to know what Ryu might remind people of come, say, April.

The good part in all this, in a camp of great expectations where you can't fling a pitcher's arm without taking out a star player or two, Ryu seems to be adjusting. When he was done throwing his 40 pitches, Ryu was met by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and led into a quick meeting with Koufax, not far from where the golf cart fiasco had occurred. In his soft voice, which was translated for Ryu, Koufax, in about three minutes, taught Ryu a new grip for his curve ball.

Koufax advised Ryu to grip the baseball, which is slicker in the U.S. than it is in South Korea, deeper in his hand. The message seemed to be less thumb-push and more natural tumble, and then Koufax slowly guided the ball with his right hand over his left forefinger. They'd work on it, Koufax told Ryu, if he wanted to in Ryu's next bullpen session. Ryu responded with something between a nod and a bow and then Koufax went off to fix something else.

But wait, it gets better:

But Ryu has a coy and easy way about him, perhaps not so tightly wound as some others. Also, he wears very cool aviator shades and holds a pingpong paddle in that fingers-down way Americans ferry dirty diapers. And, in this goofy clubhouse game in which players transferred small spongy balls from one fishbowl to another using chopsticks, Ryu won. Going away.

Somewhere, Chan Ho Park mulls a comeback.

(Meanwhile, Dylan Hernandez thinks Ryu is fat.)


Orel said...

But wait. Dylan Hernandez says Ethier won the chopsticks competition.

Steve Sax said...

Maybe we need to set up one of these.

Perhaps at the next SoSG Fest?