GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As the least-established, most-unknown quantity in the Los Angeles Dodgers' eight-man scrum of starting pitchers jockeying for the five available seats this spring, Hyun-jin Ryu has all the certainty he needs.
Asked Wednesday if he was worried about having a spot in the rotation when the season started, Ryu hesitated only long enough for the question to be translated. "Not at all," he said in Korean.
The answer did not surprise A.J. Ellis, who caught Ryu in a game for the first time Wednesday. Ryu pitched into the fourth inning, holding the Indians scoreless until reliever Matt Palmer allowed two inherited runners to score after Ryu left the game. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five (including the side in order in the third inning, all on called third strikes).
"One thing I keep reminding myself and everyone else -- he was the best baseball player in his country," Ellis said."So he has all the reason in the world to be confident, believe in himself and what he's done."
That apparently does not include throwing bullpen sessions between Cactus League appearances like the seven other starters. Ryu did not throw between starts in Korea and the Dodgers have so far deferred to him, letting him follow the personalized program with which he is most comfortable.
"It's like -- you have a way you've done things for a long time in baseball. But he's done things too. He's had success," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "To me, if he's having success, I don't want to fight him. That's really the bottom line for me."
Mattingly said he liked what he saw from Ryu this time. "Just the mix (of pitches)," he said. "He was able to throw the fastball, looked like he threw it where he wanted. Every once in awhile, you could tell he was missing a spot and he knew he missed it. But he flipped that slow curveball in there, he used the slider today, the changeup to get back in counts."
Right-hander Javy Guerra's time with Team Mexico didn't last long. He will rejoin the Dodgers on Thursday after being declared ineligible for the World Baseball Classic.
Guerra's shoulder surgery last November was cited as the reason. Guerra had accepted an invitation to pitch for Team Mexico over the weekend when Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez switched from Team Mexico to Team USA. At the time, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he would never prevent a player from representing his country. However, WBC rules stipulate any player coming off an injury or surgery can be placed on a WBC team's final roster only if consent is given
The pain in outfielder Carl Crawford's left arm has disappeared after a week of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. He has been cleared to resume swinging a bat today as part of his workout and will hit off a tee at first. But Crawford has not been cleared to re-start his throwing program. Trainers want to isolate Crawford's activities so they can identify a cause if the nerve irritation returns.
Crawford remains optimistic despite the one-week setback and has continued his daily workouts as best he could while shut down.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a smooth road the whole way," Crawford said of his recovery from Tommy John surgery last August. "I knew there would probably be things that came up. But I didn't know I was going to have something that shut me down for a week."
Right-hander Zack Greinke was scratched from his scheduled start against Team Mexico because of illness. He is the latest Dodger to suffer with an apparent flu bug going around. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez was also out with the flu. ... A day after leaving the game with a sharp pain in his left knee, right-hander Shawn Tolleson said there was "no swelling, no soreness, nothing." He was examined by doctors and returned to limited activity. ... Right-hander Josh Beckett is scheduled to throw a simulated game in the minor-league camp Thursday with right-hander Chad Billingsley getting the start against the Rangers in a Cactus League game.
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