PHOENIX — Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias said he still believes he’s competing for a starting rotation spot on the Opening Day roster, despite indications he will instead be assigned to extended spring training after camp ends.
“If I throw a bullpen tomorrow, they’ll probably tell me what the plan is,” Urias said. “I’m fighting for a spot in the rotation, and it seems this is the way they are managing me, and I have to respect that. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You hope everyone stays healthy, first and foremost, but you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The 20-year-old Urias’ innings have been limited by management, and now he’s coming off a bout with strep throat that was a further setback in his preparation.
Urias has pitched 5 2/3 Cactus League innings this spring. There are 14 Dodgers pitchers with more, including the five that figure to be in the rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the door “hasn’t closed” on Urias being in the rotation to start the season, even though he mentioned the other five as being “lined up” with their next scheduled starts.
“It would be unrealistic to say he’ll start the season built up completely,” Roberts said. “The door’s not closed. To say he’s up to 100 pitches is not realistic. There’s a certain amount of innings that we’re trying to find a way to have those innings when it matters most. All the games matter, I get that, but we’re still navigating our way with Julio.”
Even with a surplus of starting pitchers, management brought Urias into camp on time, but the club now has throttled back his workload.
“Fair or unfair, right or wrong, that’s a luxury we have,” Roberts said. “We have the depth with the starting staff to curtail or monitor his innings, which is prudent. We don’t want to make a decision now. Things can change on a daily basis. We’re keeping that window open and Julio has bought in and there’s a trust there.”
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.