Dodgers Spring Training: Julio Urias More Comfortable, But Remains Focused On Competing For Rotation
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have maintained a steady approach with Julio Urias, carefully allowing him to gain Major League experience without potentially compromising the future. Urias’ talent warrants a spot in the club’s starting rotation but the Dodgers aren’t yet certain how that will manifest.

Yet, after Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda all took the ball in a Cactus League game this year, Urias was next in line for his second career start of Spring Training. He started in the spring of 2014, and made two relief appearances in 2015 and 2016.

Urias allowed one run on two hits and had two strikeouts in just one inning of work against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields. He finished the day by throwing in the bullpen.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Urias was on the “Clayton Kershaw plan,” as the left-handed ace also threw one frame and then additional pitches in the bullpen for his 2017 debut.

Urias understandably was eager and pleased with taking the mound for the first time this year. He’s drawing from previous experience of being in camp with the Dodgers, but not taking matters for granted.

“I feel more comfortable,” Urias said through a translator. “I feel like I still have to fight for a place on the team, but I do feel more comfortable.”

Roberts said Urias was earmarked for another start five days after taking the hill. That amounts to the young left-hander facing the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. Urias went 1-1 with a 4.90 ERA in two starts against the Cubs last season. He allowed four runs in 3.2 innings during a Game 4 start in the National League Championship Series.

Aside from potentially pitching his way into the Opening Day rotation, Urias is focused on refining his repertoire. “I want to improve what [pitches] I have,” he said. “Last season I worked with [Dodgers pitching coach Rick] Honeycutt to try and improve my slider, changeup and fastball.”