Major League Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (36), who left the mound for nearly a year due to elbow surgery, is preparing to return in earnest. He plans to reenter the big leagues in July after raising his senses by dealing with batters next month. It is not an exaggeration to say that the life of the oldest Korean major league pitcher was at stake in the next two months.
Canadian local 메이저놀이터media such as Sportsnet reported on the 16th (Korean time) that Toronto general manager Ross Atkins met with reporters and shared the rehabilitation situation of Ryu Hyun-jin and Chad Green. Ryu Hyun-jin and Green underwent Tommy John surgery for an elbow injury side by side in June of last year, and have been striving for recovery ever since. Recently, he spent time at a spring camp facility in Toronto, Florida, where he pitched in the bullpen.
General manager Atkins said, “It was very encouraging to see the two pitching,” and “I expect to be put into the game next month and be able to face the batter.” In addition, he emphasized that although this schedule has not been confirmed, “it is definitely improving.”
Even if Ryu Hyun-jin pitches next month as planned, he will not immediately return to the major leagues. If things go smoothly, the general consensus is that after a month of hardening in the minor leagues, he will be called up to the big leagues after mid-July.
But there are variables. I don’t know what effect Tommy John surgery, which was the second in my life after high school, will affect my restraint and delivery. According to Baseball Servant, a baseball statistics site, Ryu Hyun-jin’s average fastball speed, which had been formed at 90 miles per hour (144.8 km) or more until 2019, has fallen below that since 2020. His surgery may have helped restore restraint, but it is difficult to rule out the possibility that the opposite is also true.
Ryu Hyun-jin, who is famous for his sensitive ‘fingertips’, but it is unknown how the one-year hiatus he suddenly faced at the age of looking into his late 30s will work on the mound. He needs to raise his sense of the game as much as possible over the next two months.
This season is extremely important to Ryu Hyun-jin, who is in the final year of his contract with Toronto. Except for 2020, the first year of his transfer, 2021-2022 fell short of expectations as he averaged only 4 points and 5 points, respectively. If he does not leave an impressive appearance in the second half of this season, his chances of renewing his contract or remaining in the big leagues are realistically low.
If even Ryu Hyun-jin leaves the US stage, it will be difficult to find Korean pitchers active in the major leagues for a while. Previously, domestic top-class pitchers such as Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong knocked on the big league door, but there was no case of great success for a long period of time like Ryu Hyun-jin. Kiwoom Heroes’ Ahn Woo-jin, among the current professional baseball young guns, is evaluated as having a high chance of advancing to the major leagues, but it is still a distant future.