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February 23,2017 10:40

For Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, one of the most encouraging signs with Hyun-Jin Ryu occurred a couple of days after Ryu threw live batting practice ...and more »

For Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, one of the most encouraging signs with Hyun-Jin Ryu occurred a couple of days after Ryu threw live batting practice. It was not how Ryu looked when he faced hitters, and it was not how he felt afterward. It was that Ryu actually wanted to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.“Usually,” Honeycutt said with a smile, “he’s not much of a ’pen thrower.”
And so Ryu threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, which represented another step on his lengthy, setback-laden recovery from a 2015 shoulder surgery. Honeycutt scheduled another round of live batting practice for Ryu on Friday. If Ryu clears that hurdle, he could be ready to pitch in a game setting.Honeycutt described the timetable for Ryu as “flexible,” meaning it is beholden to Ryu’s ability to recover after assignments. The delayed pace makes it unlikely that Ryu will crack the rotation on opening day, but that was always considered unlikely. He is part of a seven-man competition for two spots that includes Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, Julio Urias, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling.
Ryu has pitched in one game since 2015. Manager Dave Roberts set a modest goal when asked his expectation for Ryu this season.“We expect him to make starts,” Roberts said. “He’s excited to be healthy, and to be an active participant now. It’s been a tough couple years for him. Sometimes, you don’t feel like you’re a part of things. But right now, you see the smile and the excitement.”Ryu posted a 3.17 earned-run average in 56 starts between 2013 and 2014. His fastball velocity dipped into the mid-80s during his one outing in 2016.“He came into camp healthy, in great shape,” Roberts said. “The last live b.p. session he threw was really, really good. Just the command of the fastball, and the life in the zone. And the repeatable delivery. So hopefully he continues to build off that.” 

Roberts supports picking up the paceConsider Roberts a supporter of Major League Baseball’s recent agreement with the players’ union to eliminate the four-pitch intentional walk. The details have not been finalized, but the most likely solution will involve the dugout signaling the free pass, rather than forcing the pitcher to throw the ball four times.

“I think that if Major League Baseball is for it, then we’ll abide,” Roberts said. “It speeds up the game a little bit.”Roberts also said he would not mind baseball implementing a 30-second pitch clock in order to remove dawdling on the mound. He sounded less enthusiastic about the prospect of putting a runner on second base at the start of extra innings.Short hops: For the second day in a row, Scott Kazmir engaged in a lengthy bullpen session with guest instructors Orel Hershisher and Eric Gagne. Kazmir is working out the kinks in his delivery after experiencing neck and back injuries in 2016. “The No. 1 thing is he’s healthy,” Roberts said. “It’s just working through some mechanics. And right now, the arm feels great.”. . . Roberts has declined to reveal his rotation for the start of the Cactus League, but Clayton Kershaw is lined up for the opener on Saturday. Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda are on schedule for the subsequent two games.

andy.mccullough@latimes.comTwitter: @McCulloughTimes

Dodgers,Dave Roberts,Hyun-Jin Ryu,Rick Honeycutt,Scott Kazmir

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