PHOENIX -- There are all kinds of surprises on the back fields at Spring Training, as proved again Saturday when Hyun-Jin Ryu and Eric Gagne threw live batting practice to Yasiel Puig, Franklin Gutierrez, Trayce Thompson and Willie Calhoun.
Ryu had his best outing yet, with two innings, moving closer to his first Cactus League appearance after two years of ailments requiring shoulder and elbow operations.
The 41-year-old Gagne was in tune-up mode for Team Canada and the World Baseball Classic, although if he's effective there and comes out of it healthy, he's talked about a Major League comeback. Maybe that's why current Nats official and former Dodgers exec De Jon Watson was in attendance.
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As for Ryu, he was pinpoint with his control and sounded like a pitcher ready for the next step in his attempted return to the Dodgers' starting rotation. With a surplus of starters and Ryu's history of injuries (including a tight left adductor this week), management has been slow-tracking the lefty, but Ryu sounded confident.
"It was good overall and I especially want to highlight the command I had today," Ryu said.
The hitters he faced were impressed. Ryu struck out Puig twice, one time eliciting a loud "strike three" from Ryu in English.
"He was throwing hard and throwing strikes," said Gutierrez.
"Ryu didn't miss a spot," said Thompson, who added he will play in a game next week for the first time as he returns from two broken vertebrae.
Gagne, meanwhile, has been in camp as a guest instructor, but has also been training seriously for the World Baseball Classic.
"I stood in on one of his bullpens earlier, but to actually get in there and hit live, I can't even imagine what it was like facing him in his prime," said Thompson.
"He still can pitch," said Gutierrez. "How old is he, 41? Still got the changeup. He threw good curveballs to Puig. Definitely, that was amazing. I think he can come back, with those pitches, yeah. Good for him."