Julio Urias might finally see Dodgers willing to expand his role

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season GLENDALE, Ariz. — Since signing with the Dodgers five days after his 16th birthday and making his major-league debut as teenager, Julio Urias has had a constant, silent companion – his potential.It has held him back as much as helped him. Urias lived with pitch and innings restriction for fear of what overuse at a young age might do to that potential. Recovering from major shoulder surgery in 2017, the bubble wrap only grew tighter.As a result, Urias has made more relief appearances (35) than starts (28) in the big leagues. Back and forth, he has gone — between the majors and minors, between the bullpen and a starting role.“My career has been a test of patience,” Urias said through an interpreter this spring. “Going up through the ranks so fast and then coming to my first big league camp, it’s been a mix of experience and patience. Now it’s time to take advantage of the opportunity that they give me and be ready for those seven months or whatever it may be to the end of the World Series. You gotta start strong and you got to finish strong.” Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco “There were some points that we touched on,” said Urias who will make his first Cactus League appearance of the spring Monday. “Going over last season, it’s something that came up. At the end of day, I know that it’s something that’s going to benefit me and it’s also going to benefit them.”Roberts took Urias’ offseason dedication and leaner body as positive signs.“Yeah, that’s a good thing,” he said. “I know Julio really well and I’m excited for him and this opportunity that he’s earned. But, yeah, his body coming in the way he did, mentally he’s in a good place.“The challenge for Julio is to sustain it all year long. And so I think that that’s where the maturity has to come into place. That’s where the maturity has to come into play — the weight room and obviously the stuff on the field, that matters.”DRIVELINE DRIVERoberts said he took note this winter not only of the number of Dodgers pitchers who made a trip to the Driveline Baseball performance-training center but the stature of those pitchers.“It’s not only a veteran guy but these are superstars,” he said, referring to Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw who spent time at Driveline. “For Clayton and Kenley to be open to that — and Clayton was an all-star last year. But still to be open to that shows kind of a lot of maturity and openness. … It’s really good to see that.”Jansen has remained devoted this spring to the weighted ball exercises and other drills he learned at Driveline. He has also incorporated a new slider grip suggested by Rick Honeycutt and Orel Hershiser during a side session this spring, using it to strikeout Rangers catcher Jeff Mathis Sunday.Jansen has faced nine batters this spring, retired them all and struck out six.“You’re going to continue to build confidence,” Jansen said of the new slider grip. “But, it feels great — let me put it like that.“It’s constantly going to be a game of adjustments. This is the major leagues, the best of the best. Hitters have made adjustments to me. Now I have to make adjustments.”BETTER BESTThe Dodgers have won 393 regular-season games in Roberts’ four seasons as manager including a franchise-record 106 in 2019. But this year’s team is potentially the best he’s seen in Los Angeles, Roberts said.“On paper I said it, last year was the best team I had seen last year,” he said. “I do think on paper this team is even better. But what I feel on paper obviously doesn’t matter and that was evident last year. Adding Mookie (Betts), David (Price) and getting Brusdar (Graterol) here, we’ve got a really good ballclub. So now we just got to go out there and play good baseball all year long.”ALSOJoc Pederson took swings again Sunday “and felt really encouraged,” according to Roberts. Pederson has been limited by soreness in his right hip/side and is still at least a week away from getting in a game.Related Articles Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start This year, Urias could start and finish in the same role for the first time in his career. The Dodgers have him penciled into the starting rotation to start the season.“The conversations we’ve had with Julio has been just more of encouraging,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He understands what’s in front of him. He’s got to continue to stay healthy, take care of his body. Last year was very difficult, on a lot of fronts. The inconsistency of role I think was hard for Julio. We take for granted his buy-in sometimes. But now things will be more regimented as a starter. So with that, with the way he looks physically, to sustain that, I think he’s gonna have a really nice year.”Recognizing the opportunity this season represents, Urias dedicated his offseason to getting in better shape. He worked on his diet but won’t say how much weight he lost.“I can’t say,” he said in English, smiling. “I lose weight, the only thing I can say.”Down time caused by his shoulder rehab and last year’s 20-game suspension following a domestic violence incident led to Urias gaining weight. He acknowledges that the Dodgers talked to him about it, making a strong suggestion that he get in better shape for 2020.last_img

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