The first official spring training camp of the Toronto Blue Jays took place at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin, Florida in the United States on Thursday local time.
Ryu Hyun-jin has moved to Toronto after playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven years, but he did not look awkward in the new team’s camp at all. For the 32-year-old South Korean pitcher, it was the first time to join a training camp in Florida, rather he looked confident as in ordinary times. "I'm a rookie player in this team," Ryu said. However, his attitude in training and behaviors gave a strong impression that he is a veteran player of the team.
Toronto signed a four-year, 80-million-dollar contract with Ryu, who had become a free agent ahead of this year’s season.
The third most expensive player in Toronto’s history was treated as its ace by people in and outside of the team starting from his very first training. More than 60 people, including Korean journalists and reporters from local media in the US and Canada, were racing to cover Ryu’s every single move and act in the camp. In particular, his team and local media were surprised to see the large number of reporters from Korea, which well exceeded 30.
After having private pitching practice from several days earlier, Ryu got a training session with catcher Reese McGuire (24) at the team’s first training day. While throwing 33 bullpen pitches, the South Korean pitcher tested all different types of pitches, such as fastball, cut fastball, curve, and changeup, that he can throw.
“I will gradually increase pitching. I will do the same way I had done in the U.S. I will not overwork to show too much from the beginning,” Ryu talked about the plan at his new team. “I still have a lot to learn, but I want to play baseball for fun rather than fulfill the role of the ace pitcher. If young players ask me questions, I will help them to the extent that I know.”
Ryu will undergo one more round of bullpen pitching on Sunday. “I will be bullpen pitching once more and live pitching, before participating in an exhibition game,” he said. “The first game I will play has already been scheduled, but I'll keep it as secret until the team announces it.”
Heon-Jae Lee firstname.lastname@example.org