Ryu Hyun-jin Set for Preseason Appearances Ahead of KBO Opening Day

SEOUL - Former Major League Baseball All-Star Ryu Hyun-jin is scheduled to make two preseason appearances before his highly anticipated return to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) regular season with the Hanwha Eagles. The Eagles' manager, Choi Won-ho, disclosed this plan on Monday as the team returned to South Korea from their spring training in Okinawa, Japan.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the strategy is to prepare Ryu adequately for the Opening Day start against the LG Twins on March 23 in Seoul, ensuring he gets sufficient work while also allowing for rest before the season commences.

Ryu, who previously played for the Eagles from 2006 to 2012, rejoined the team on a record-breaking eight-year contract valued at 17 billion won ($12.8 million), the largest deal in KBO history. During their time in Okinawa, Ryu participated in live batting practice sessions and bullpen workouts, with plans for him to pitch in a scrimmage this Thursday, following a four-day rest after his last live batting practice.

The manager outlined Ryu's preseason schedule, which includes starts against the Kia Tigers on March 12 and the Lotte Giants on March 17, with a five-day break leading up to his Opening Day start. This scheduling is part of the Eagles' efforts to reintegrate Ryu into the top level of South Korean baseball and leverage his experience and skill set for the upcoming season.

Ryu's return to the KBO is among the league's most notable storylines this year, given his dominant performance during his initial tenure with the Eagles, where he earned MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in 2006. His subsequent success in Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award finalist nominations and leading the majors with a 2.32 ERA in 2019, underscores his prowess on the mound.

Despite coming off his second Tommy John surgery last summer and approaching his 37th birthday, Ryu is regarded as a formidable pitcher. Choi expressed confidence in Ryu's abilities and his role as the Eagles' ace, highlighting his excellent command and pitch quality observed during spring training.

The Hanwha Eagles, aiming to overcome recent struggles and make a postseason push, are buoyed by Ryu's presence. Choi acknowledged that Ryu's inclusion in the team brings confidence toward achieving their postseason aspirations, marking a significant boost for a team that has faced challenges in securing playoff berths since Ryu's departure.

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