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DODGERS FYI

Hyun-Jin Ryu's curve won't bend, but he breaks in nicely

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers' new Korean pitcher, struggles with curveball despite input from Sandy Koufax, but is otherwise flawless in big league exhibition debut.

February 24, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers rookie pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu watches the spring opener on Saturday at Camelback Ranch.
Dodgers rookie pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu watches the spring opener on Saturday… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )

PHOENIX — During a recent bullpen session, Hyun-Jin Ryu was offered advice by Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax on how to grip his curveball.

Ryu threw the pitch once in his Dodgers debut Sunday and Dewayne Wise of the Chicago White Sox drove it into the right-field corner for a triple.

"I guess it really didn't work today," Ryu said through an interpreter as he laughed.

Pitching a scoreless third inning in the Dodgers' 2-2 tie with the White Sox at Camelback Ranch, Ryu was otherwise flawless in his first major league game. He forced Blake Tekotte to hit a weak grounder back at him, struck out Gordon Beckham and got Jeff Keppinger to fly out to center field.

Although Dodgers coaches and executives have refrained from making any predictions about how Ryu will make the transition from the Korean league to the majors, catcher Tim Federowicz says he should be effective.

"He definitely knows how to make adjustments," Federowicz said. "I could see with his fastball, when he was up a little bit, his next pitch was there. That's where you can tell the guys who know how to pitch."

Ryu, who is expected to be part of the Dodgers' rotation, appears to be in better shape than when he reported to camp. That prompted a South Korean television reporter to remark that his face is half the size it used to be.

"I'm working on my diet," Ryu said. "The toughest thing is at night time when I get hungry. I have to force myself to sleep."

Ryu said he has lost seven kilograms since the start of camp, which is about 15 pounds.

How much does he weigh now?

"That's my No. 1 secret," he said.

But officially, Ryu has gained weight. A lot of it.

The Dodgers' roster, which used to list him at 215 pounds, now lists him at 255. Informed of that development, Ryu laughed.

"Why would they do that?" he asked in mock outrage.

Manager Don Mattingly said he doesn't think Ryu's weight will be an issue, and compared the left-hander's body to former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton's.

"Broxton's huge, but he moved good," Mattingly said. "His body was underneath him, it wasn't like a slug."

Greinke also debuts

Shortly after Zack Greinke joined the Milwaukee Brewers, he picked the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat Wisconsin's own Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

Now, Greinke is saying Michael Jordan was a better basketball player than Dodgers co-owner and former Lakers great Magic Johnson.

"I'm not the smartest guy," Greinke said.

Clayton Kershaw refused to be drawn into the Jordan-Magic debate.

"See, he's smart," Greinke said.

Like Ryu, Greinke pitched his first game for the Dodgers on Sunday. But since Greinke is a far better-known quantity, his start came under significantly less scrutiny. Greinke gave up one hit and struck out two in two scoreless innings.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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