Ryu Hyun-jin Speeds Rehabilitation After Tommy John Surgery…to return later in July
Returning to Korea in 2025 and participating in WBC in 2026, I dream of a successful conclusion
This season is somewhat regrettable for many baseball fans who watched Korean leaguers playing in the U.S. Major League Baseball while unable to sleep at dawn. This is why there are not many players playing in the game. Of course, Kim Ha-sung (San Diego) and Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh) are playing as “one-party backs” now.
Kim Ha-sung is considered the best defense player. It’s not a second baseman, but all infield positions combined. The number of runs 안전놀이터 (DRS) blocked by Kim Ha-sung with defense amounts to 10 as the second baseman and 2 as the fourth and third baseman. The total number of 16 is 6 more than Kevin Kiermeyer (Toronto outfielder), who is 2nd overall, and 7 more than Danby Swanson (Chicago Cubs shortstop), who is 2nd infielder. Last year, Kim Ha-sung failed to win the shortstop Gold Glove because he was pushed by Swanson.
Bae Ji-hwan is the fastest in the Major League now. The average time to reach first base after hitting is 4.04 seconds, which is the first place among 452 measured players. Bae Ji-hwan’s speed, which puts great pressure on the opposing team, often serves as a “game changer.” Bae Ji-hwan, who is especially cared for by Andrew McCutchen, a 2,000-hit hitter, is getting better and better at batting average, breaking away from his obsession with stealing bases. Choi Ji-man, who Pittsburgh brought in as a trade and pays 6 billion won in annual salary, is absent due to an unexpected Achilles tendon injury. He is currently preparing to return in June.
There’s a hole in the perfect Toronto starting lineup
The reason why the hearts of domestic fans are particularly empty is that they are not seeing Ryu Hyun-jin representing the Korean Leaguer. Ryu Hyun-jin underwent Tommy John surgery after suffering an elbow injury on June 2 last year. Tommy John surgery, which reconstructs damaged elbow ligaments, is known to be likely to recur before 10 years have passed. However, Ryu Hyun-jin underwent surgery for the second time in 18 years since 2004 when he was a junior at Dongsan High School. Ryu Hyun-jin’s elbow ligament played a huge long run.
Ryu Hyun-jin has returned after overcoming the crisis of pitcher’s life. Ryu Hyun-jin’s shoulder joint and net surgery in May 2015 had a only 7% chance of a successful return. However, Ryu Hyun-jin defeated the evaluation of “it’s over” and ranked first in the National League ERA and second in the Cy Young Award in 2019. In 2020, he moved to the American League and finished third in the Cy Young Award. What is interesting is that the shoulder surgeon in 2015 and the elbow surgeon last year said the same thing, “I am confident of a successful return because the degree of damage is not serious.”
In fact, Ryu Hyun-jin is running a “fast track.” Tommy John surgery usually takes 14 to 16 months to return, and the older you are, the longer it takes. Dustin May (LA Dodgers), who was 23 years old when he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021, returned after 14 months. However, Ryu Hyun-jin, who underwent a second operation at the age of 12 years older than May, is confident of returning at the end of July, 13 months later, and is actually performing the appropriate schedule.
The problem is the selection of his team Toronto Blue Jays. Not long ago, Toronto’s starters had no vacancies even if Ryu Hyun-jin returned. Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassett, and Jose Verios are playing tremendously, and Yusei Kikuchi was the only Toronto starter among 30 Major League teams to have only five starters. This means that the skills of the five players are overwhelming. On the other hand, the Dodgers are taking turns with 10 starters.
However, there was a big variable in Toronto’s perfect starting lineup. Alec Manoa (25), the youngest but most reliable Cy Young Award winner last year, fell into a serious slump. Toronto sent Manoa down to the minor leagues, with only 1 win, 7 losses and ERA 6.36 in the last 13 starts. He also sent it to the Rookie League, the lowest level. Toronto sent Manoa to the Rookie League because it has the latest “pitching wrap” made with $100 million in Dunedin, Florida, where the Rookie League team is located.
Hanwha may return to Korea in time for the opening of a new stadium in 2025
In Toronto, similar prescriptions have been successful before. When the team’s rising pitcher was seriously sluggish, he sent him down to Single A and gave him enough time. The player later recovered perfectly and won two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game in regular games, a no-hitter in postseason games, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s about Roy Halladay. Therefore, Toronto is expected to give Manoa enough time for correction. In other words, this means that there will be no space for Ryu Hyun-jin.
If Ryu Hyun-jin can return right after the start of the second half on July 15 as his goal, Ryu Hyun-jin can meet Kim Ha-sung’s San Diego, his former team, the Dodgers, and Otani’s Angels. Ryu Hyun-jin’s last victory on May 27 last year was a victory against Otani in the starting match.
Ryu Hyun-jin is the most successful Korean pitcher in the Major League along with Park Chan-ho. However, it is difficult to challenge Park Chan-ho’s 124 wins and Nomo Hideo’s 123 wins because he played seven seasons in the KBO League and belatedly entered the U.S. Then, what is pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin’s final goal.
In 2013, Ryu Hyun-jin returned to the Hanwha Eagles as he moved to the U.S. and said he would retire in Korea. And the idea remains the same even now. Ryu Hyun-jin’s two remaining goals are to achieve a successful conclusion in the Major League and to play well even when he returns to Hanwha. If so, Ryu Hyun-jin’s return is more likely to be in two years than next year. Ryu Hyun-jin, whose four-year contract with Toronto ends this year, lacks time to make a successful conclusion in the Major League Baseball to return next year.
In particular, the reason why 2025 is more convincing is that Hanwha will open a new stadium at that time. For Hanwha, there will be no better picture than Ryu Hyun-jin, who returned, playing the opening game of the new stadium. Japan has the same return case as Ryu Hyun-jin. Hiroki Kuroda returned to his former team Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 2015 after playing well for the New York Yankees for three consecutive years. It was to keep my promise to come back before it was too late. Kuroda played in the 2015 season (40) and 2016 season (41) where he forgot his age, and led him to his first league championship in 25 years in 2016. And by announcing his retirement ahead of the Japanese series, he left with a perfect applause.
When he returns to Korea, Ryu Hyun-jin will try to win 99 KBO League games, the same number as his back number. And Ryu Hyun-jin’s plan to lead Hanwha’s revival before retiring is expected to be the starting point for his upcoming return to the Major League.
Ryu Hyun-jin has one more goal. He participated in the 2026 World Baseball Classic. Coach Kuriyama of the Japanese national team, who won the WBC for the first time in 14 years this year, said that Shohei Otani (LA Angels), who won the MVP, and Masataka Yoshida (Boston), who won the RBI king, were also good, but the existence of Darvish Yu (San Diego) was crucial. The team was able to unite as one as Darvish, who stepped up to improve his junior players’ skills, became the centerpiece. We can also have a center point of Ryu Hyun-jin in the next tournament.