CHICAGO — Hyun-Jin Ryu is trying to get back on the mound as soon as possible.
If that happens to be in a playoff game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, so be it.
Ryu had a cortisone shot on Monday to address inflammation in his shoulder and hopes to begin a throwing program this weekend. The 27-year-old left-hander was removed from his start last Friday at San Francisco after just one inning.
"I feel a lot better than when I first felt the pain, obviously," Ryu said before Los Angeles' 14-5 victory at the Chicago Cubs on Friday. "Just preparing to come back soon, this is my goal.
"I've been working out obviously without throwing and hurting my shoulder even further. But right now, this is the direction and I can't really say when I foresee myself to come back."
Ryu is a key part of the rotation for Los Angeles, which is looking for its second straight NL West title. Entering Friday's game at the Cubs, the Dodgers had a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place San Francisco.
Los Angeles clinched a playoff spot when Milwaukee lost 4-2 at Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Ryu is 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts after he won 14 games in his first season a year ago. Manager Don Mattingly said it's too early to tell when Ryu might return to the rotation, and the pitcher said he will be just fine if his next start comes in the playoffs.
"If I am healthy enough to pitch, I can pitch any game," he said through a translator.
Ryu also went on the disabled list in May with shoulder inflammation, but he thinks he will be able to return more quickly this time because of the shot. Ryu's simple delivery also could accelerate his return to the mound.
"That makes me feel a little better. Once he doesn't feel pain and starts throwing, he's pretty much ready," Mattingly said.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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