Korean Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays), who showed his presence in the Major League Baseball (MLB) of American professional baseball with a successful return, is returning home.
Acepec Corporation, Ryu Hyun-jin’s domestic management company, announced on the 16th, “Ryu Hyun-jin will conclude the season and return to Korea through Incheon International Airport on the 18th.”스포츠토토
Ryu Hyun-jin ended the 2022 season early when he underwent elbow ligament fusion surgery in June of last year, and after concentrating on rehabilitation for over a year, he made his big league return in a home game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 2 of this year. It had been exactly one year and two months since his last appearance last season.
Even when Ryu Hyun-jin underwent surgery, the local media’s outlook was bleak. Generally, the rehabilitation period required for athletes undergoing elbow ligament fusion surgery is at least one year, and depending on the recovery, this period may be longer. In particular, in the case of Ryu Hyun-jin, considering his considerable age, it was true that there was a question mark as to whether he would be able to regain the same skills as before.
However, Ryu Hyun-jin, who had a strong will to continue his big league career, focused on taking care of his body during the rehabilitation period. He built his body through a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training, and also lost his weight. Although his return was a return, Ryu Hyun-jin’s biggest goal was to show himself as a starting pitcher again.
Ryu Hyun-jin performed his first bullpen pitching in May of this year, and gradually improved his condition by starting live pitching and actual pitching in June and July, respectively. The team also closely watched Ryu Hyun-jin’s recovery, and Toronto coach John Schneider also expressed anticipation for Ryu Hyun-jin’s return. Moreover, Toronto, which was looking to advance to the postseason, desperately needed the addition of Ryu Hyun-jin, who could add weight to the starting lineup.
Even in August, things were going smoothly. Including his return match against Baltimore on August 2nd, Ryu Hyun-jin left behind decent records of 3 wins, 1 loss, and an average ERA of 2.25 in 5 games and 24 innings in a month. In particular, he lived up to the team’s expectations by becoming the winning pitcher in three consecutive games, from August 14th against the Chicago Cubs to August 27th against the Cleveland Guardians.
In the home game against the Texas Rangers on the 13th of last month, he pitched 6 innings and achieved his first quality start since his return. Ryu Hyun-jin, who always went down after only 5 innings, dispelled concerns about his ability to handle innings with today’s game.
However, after mid-September, Ryu Hyun-jin faced a major crisis. He failed to pitch 5 innings in two consecutive games, following the Boston Red Sox game (4⅔ innings) on the 18th of last month and the Tampa Bay Rays game (4⅓ innings) on the 24th, and in his last appearance against Tampa Bay on October 1st, he allowed 7 hits and 1 in 3 innings. He performed somewhat poorly, striking out and allowing 2 runs.
In the end, Ryu Hyun-jin, who had 3 wins in the season for over a month, ended the 2023 season with final results of 9 games, 41⅔ innings, 3 wins, 3 losses, and an ERA of 4.54. In the American League Wild Card Series that took place after the regular season, I had to watch the team’s fall baseball game as I could not even enter the entry line.
Ryu Hyun-jin is expected to focus on building his body and finding a new team during the off-season. Currently, the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason Championship Series (CS) schedule is in full swing, and when the World Series comes to an end, Ryu Hyun-jin will become eligible for free agency. As of now, more weight is placed on the possibility of a transfer. Local American media outlets have already mentioned teams that could recruit Ryu Hyun-jin.
However, his chances of returning to the KBO league are expected to be low. Ben Nicholson-Smith of the Canadian local media ‘Sportsnet’ also mentioned Ryu Hyun-jin’s name while reporting news about Toronto’s free agent players such as Brandon Belt and Matt Chapman through his SNS (social networking service) on the 5th. He said, “Ryu Hyun-jin wants to sign with a major league team.”
Meanwhile, Ryu Hyun-jin, who is about to return to Korea, expressed his thoughts through his management company, saying, “I have expectations for next season. I will prepare for a new season just like last year.”