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Ryu Hyun-jin named Dodgers' Opening Day starter

All Headlines 09:02 March 23, 2019

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- Los Angeles Dodgers' South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin has been named the team's Opening Day starter, becoming just the second pitcher from the country to have the honor.

Manager Dave Roberts made the announcement in the Dodgers' spring training site in Glendale, Arizona, on Friday (local time). Injuries to Clayton Kershaw, who had opened the previous eight seasons, plus Walker Buehler and Rich Hill left Ryu as the most viable option to start the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks next Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

In this Associated Press photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the bottom of the first inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 21, 2019. (Yonhap)

Ryu, 31, is the second South Korean pitcher to make an Opening Day start in Major League Baseball (MLB). Park Chan-ho became the first to do so when he took the mound for the Dodgers in 2001 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 2002, Park signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent and got the Opening Day nod again against the Oakland Athletics.

"It's definitely special, my first time in an Opening Day since I got to the States (in 2013)," Ryu was quoted as saying by MLB.com. "I wasn't really thinking about it, nor was it my priority. My goal was to build up my pitch count and innings to be ready for the season. That wasn't on my radar."

Ryu made five starts in spring training, recording a 3.00 ERA with 12 strikeouts against no walks in 15 innings.

The former Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) MVP with the Hanwha Eagles is entering his seventh season with the Dodgers, though he missed the entire 2015 season and made just one start in 2016 following shoulder and elbow surgeries.

Last year, he was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts and missed three months with a groin injury.

He made three starts against the D-backs in 2018, going 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA. The lefty was 5-2 with a 1.15 ERA in nine appearances at home.

Ryu has often said his primary goal for 2019 is to stay healthy for the whole season. He has had at least one trip to the injured list in every season except for his rookie year in 2013.

In this Feb. 24, 2019, file photo by Reuters via USA Today Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Ryu Hyun-jin throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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