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Ryu gets green light for Opening Night

Dodgers lefty to step in for ailing Kershaw in first game stateside

Special to

LOS ANGELES -- You might say Hyun-Jin Ryu has gained a toe-hold for the starting assignment Sunday night when the Dodgers open the mainland portion of their regular season at San Diego.

"Without something crazy happening, he's good to go Sunday," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said following the Dodgers' 5-4, 10-inning Freeway Series win over the Angels on Friday night.

Ryu, who returned from Australia with a cracked nail on his right big toe, passed his final test by completing a bullpen session Friday afternoon before the game. He even took batting practice.

The bullpen session was about 30 pitches, Ryu said, and he tested himself by throwing all of his pitches.

So, because of ace Clayton Kershaw's sore upper back, Ryu will make two starts this season before any Dodgers pitcher not named Kershaw makes one. And, technically, Ryu will make back-to-back starts.

Ryu started the Dodgers' 7-5 win over Arizona on March 23 in the second game of the Opening Series in Australia. He held the D-backs scoreless on two hits over five innings, earning the victory. He fanned five and walked one.

Now, eight days later, Ryu will start the Dodgers' next game.

"He's had a really quiet spring," Mattingly said. "He's gone about his business. His outings this spring have been very consistent."

Then, Mattingly quipped: "He started off really bad because he gave up a home run to Dee Gordon in an intrasquad game. But he's been good ever since."

In Australia, Ryu picked up right where he left off in 2013. As a rookie last summer, Ryu went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts. He struck out 154 hitters, fifth-most by a rookie in Dodgers history, and the most since Hideo Nomo whiffed 236 in 1995.

"He's had a good camp," Mattingly said. "And he threw the ball well in Australia."

Now, he'll look to do the same in San Diego against the Padres' Andrew Cashner as 2014 gets going, finally, in earnest.

Scott Miller is a contributor to

Los Angeles Dodgers, Hyun-Jin Ryu