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Ryu ready to put adjustments to the test

@zachsilver
September 11, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Hyun-Jin Ryu's hair color isn't the only thing that's changed. (It’s gray now.) He's been focused on sharpening his mechanics during his brief reset period, as his spot in the rotation was skipped during this series against the Orioles. Ryu will hopefully see the benefits of that tinkering

BALTIMORE -- Hyun-Jin Ryu's hair color isn't the only thing that's changed. (It’s gray now.) He's been focused on sharpening his mechanics during his brief reset period, as his spot in the rotation was skipped during this series against the Orioles.

Ryu will hopefully see the benefits of that tinkering when he returns to the rotation on Saturday in New York, manager Dave Roberts said on Wednesday. The Dodgers believe that it is indeed mechanics -- not fatigue -- that contributed to their National League Cy Young Award contender’s 9.95 ERA across his four past outings, despite the fact that this is just the second time the lefty has eclipsed 160 innings in a season.

“I think that Hyun-Jin is just so physical, he’s strong and he works hard,” Roberts said. “I think that there is something to [his] changeup just being up three more inches that it typically is, and at the big league level, that’s a big deal. And [his] fastball being three inches off the plate, that’s a big deal. I do think that it’s not a velocity thing, it’s not a stuff thing -- it’s just more of an execution.”

Proving Roberts' point, Ryu has not seen a discernible dip in his velocity across most pitch types his past few outings. If anything, velocity has been up, for the most part.

But after a bullpen session on Tuesday at Camden Yards that tested some of the tinkering, Ryu has a set date when he'll try to end to this trying stretch of four outings, during which his ERA increased an entire run, from 1.45 to 2.45.

And he’ll do so on Saturday opposite Jacob deGrom, whose 2.70 ERA puts him right up there with Ryu in the Cy Young conversation.

"I really can’t speak to the specifics of it,” Roberts said of Ryu’s adjustments. “I actually haven’t been a part of the last two. I know he feels good with what they’re working on, and hopefully it shows on Saturday.”

And when the cap comes off, the new ’do will show, too.

“He said it’s kind of like a shade of gray, I guess,” Roberts laughed. “I’m doing my own version of a shade of gray. Hopefully the change in hair color leads to more success.”

Roberts reflects on Sept. 11

For Roberts, the product of a military family that moved from base to base, the feelings that come on Sept. 11 hit especially close to home. He remains prideful in the showings around MLB that continue to honor those who were lost and those who sacrificed their lives 18 years ago.

“I was talking with my wife today. The close to 3,000 deaths impacted obviously not only those individuals but exponentially their families and friends,” Roberts said. “There’s no number to even put on that. How it brought our country together and how we are still remembering the servicemen and -women, the firemen, the police officers -- it’s an emotional day. For us at Major League Baseball to continue to appreciate the lives that were lost as a country makes me proud.”

Kolarek pitches in close to home

Before Wednesday’s tilt, League of Dreams -- the nonprofit founded by Frank Kolarek, reliever Adam Kolarek’s father, that seeks to give those living with mental and physical disabilities the chance to play baseball -- held another one of its marquee clinics on the field of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Kolarek. Not only was he able to pitch in on a beautiful sunny morning, but he was able to do so close where he became a fan.

“There’s not so many leagues out there that allow kids to play with disabilities,” Kolarek said. “It’s unfortunate, but those kids just get overlooked too often. I think having the common theme of baseball is something that everybody loves, and they just never had the opportunity to play.”

Injury updates

• Justin Turner was held out of the lineup on Wednesday for the third consecutive game due to a sore left ankle. X-rays taken in Los Angeles over the weekend were inconclusive; now Turner is heading for an MRI either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

“I’m not very concerned,” Roberts said. “I think if there was an incident that kind of happened, maybe more so, but he really can’t recount what led to the discomfort when he woke up a few days ago with the soreness. Just kind of trying to gather more information, but right now with where we are at, to push it makes no sense.”

• Max Muncy, meanwhile, is slated to rejoin the Dodgers on Friday in New York. The infielder, battling back from a fractured right wrist, has been facing pitching at the Dodgers’ facilities in Arizona -- and doing well, at that.

“As I heard, he had three homers today,” Roberts said with a smile. “I don’t know how many at-bats he took, but that’s obviously a good sign. Looking forward to getting him back.”