Monday, March 25, 2019

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers Opening Day Pitcher By Default

With Clayton Kershaw injured, and Rich Hill hobbled by a strained knee, Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the nod to start Dodgers Opening Day 2019.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Injuries to Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and now Rich Hill have left Hyun-Jin Ryu to start Opening Day for the Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts announced on Friday. Ryu's start will come against the D-backs next Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

"At least we have clarity with that," said Roberts.

Hill suffered a medial collateral ligament strain in his left knee in Sunday's start, and he is expected to miss two weeks, Roberts said, joining Kershaw on the injured list to open the season.

Hill said he felt the injury four pitches from the end of his outing while dropping down to throw a sidearm pitch. He tried to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, but he experienced discomfort. An MRI showed a Grade 1 strain.

"Right now, it's more optimistic than anything," Hill said. "Two weeks will save you three months of rehab and recovery. I don't want to go down the road of surgery. This is just the smart way to approach it and not derail the season."

Hill had planned to pitch on Saturday as a final tuneup for Opening Day. He compared the discomfort to a turned ankle, only in his knee.

"We kept hoping he would avoid the injured list," said Roberts. "He threw a bullpen [session] and felt it with the 33rd or 34th pitch, and we felt we had to take a step back. I know there's no structural damage from the test [MRI], I've heard. A couple weeks is fair."

Roberts, who originally gave Kershaw a ninth consecutive Opening Day start until his left shoulder came up sore, had been coy about naming an Opening Day replacement, it turns out, because of Hill’s injury. Kershaw is also expected to be sidelined several weeks.

I'll be there on Thursday.

Who knows, I might be asked to start the game.