The Dodgers are denying it, Don Mattingly is denying it, even Hyun-jin Ryu himself is denying it – the it being that Ryu is hurt.
On Friday MLB.com’s Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick posted an article saying that Ryu: A) Threw a bullpen session on Friday – something that he has never done before between starts; B) The bullpen session was monitored closely by Dodger manager Don Mattingly, team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Vice President of Medical Services Stan Conte; and C) Ryu was wearing a compression sleeve on his left (throwing) arm before, during and after the session for what he says was to “keep my arm loose” – something else that Ryu has never done before.
What does it all mean?
It could mean absolutely nothing – but it could also mean a great deal.
Throughout the year, Mattingly has proven time and again that he has a horrible track record when it comes to giving an accurate diagnosis with his injured players, and I mean absolutely horrible. In fact, whatever Mattingly said usually turned out to be the exact opposite, such as injuries were minor in nature or that his players were ‘day to day’. In some cases, Mattingly kept injured players who needed to go on the disabled list on his bench for as long as 10 days or more when he could have (and should have) placed them on the DL and brought in healthy replacements days earlier.
In all honesty, I do not believe that Mattingly was intentionally trying to deceive the media – at least not always. Instead, I believe that Mattingly simply did not want to take off his rose-colored glasses and ‘hoped’ that the injuries were minor. I also realize that players sometimes minimize the seriousness of their injuries because they want to keep playing, in spite of their ailments. I also realize that many of these decisions come from above Mattingly and that sometimes his hands are tied on such matters.
The point here is that something is going on with Ryu whether the Dodgers want to ‘go public’ with it or not, and while every Dodger fan hopes and prays that Ryu is healthy when he starts Game-3 of the NLDS on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, the question remains as to whether he is hurt or not.
With Ricky Nolasco listed as the Game-4 starter for the Dodgers, this clearly puts Chris Capuano in the position of either being a long reliever should Ryu have to come out of Game-3 early or that Capuano will actually start Game-3 for the Dodgers if Ryu is unable to go at all – something that could very well happen based on Ken Gurnick’s article.
Although Capuano is no Hyun-jin Ryu, not by a long shot, he has at times been very effective – unbelievably effective, in fact. Unfortunately, at other times Capuano has been awful, giving up five runs or more on several occasions this past season.
All of this being said, Chris Capuano has a demeanor and a confidence about him that is rather reassuring. Whether it’s his age, his maturity, his intelligence or whatever, it is a veteran presence that cannot be denied or ignored; and should the fertilizer hit the fan with Ryu, for some reason I am okay with Capuano as his replacement – silly as that may seem.
Again, I sincerely hope and pray that Hyun-jin Ryu will be his normal self throughout the playoffs, but if he is not, Chris Capuano may very well be the most important Dodger on the playoff roster.