PHOENIX — When the door to the Dodgers clubhouse opened on Monday morning, Julio Urias walked in, returning to camp after being sent home over the weekend with strep throat. But the door has just about closed on his prospects of making the Dodgers opening day rotation.
"It would be unrealistic to say he would start the season built up completely,” manager Dave Roberts said on Monday.
Urias told reporters on Monday — I missed this scrum, while talking with Rob Segedin — that he still felt he was competing for a spot in the opening day rotation, but the odds are not in his favor. The left-hander has thrown just 5⅓ Cactus League innings, and has yet to be stretched past two innings in any one start.
He will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, then the Dodgers will see where he’s at. “Depending on how he comes out of that, we'll slide him in in the coming days,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers don’t want to use Urias in relief, so he’s either starting for the major league team or preserving that arm, with extended spring training a growing possibility.
"Like we told Julio, there are a certain amount of innings, and we're trying to get those innings when they matter most,” Roberts said. “All the games matter, I get that, but we're still trying to navigate with Julio.”
Part of this has been by design, to some extent. Urias prepared for spring training like he would be ready to start the season, and the Dodgers had to make sure he was reasonably ready to ramp things up if the club didn’t have five other healthy starters to start the year.
Two weeks from opening day, they have those five starters, and maybe six if you count Hyun-jin Ryu, who will start on Tuesday and is expected to pitch four innings, maybe a hair behind the other starters.
It has never been a question of whether Urias would be shut down at some point this season to artificially limit his innings. It was just a matter of when.
"Fair or unfair, right or wrong, that's a luxury we do have,” Roberts said. “When Brandon McCarthy is healthy, and Alex [Wood] is throwing the ball like he is, when Kenta [Maeda] is healthy, with [Clayton] Kershaw and Rich [Hill], we have the depth in the starting staff.
“To curtail and monitor Julio's innings which we've done, it's obviously prudent. We don't want to make a decision right now, because we all know things change on a daily basis. We're trying to keep the window open.”
Brandon McCarthy is expected to pitch five innings against the Indians on Monday.
On Thursday, Clayton Kershaw will start against Texas on and Alex Wood will pitch on the back fields.
Kenta Maeda will start Friday, but it hasn’t been decided if it will be against the Diamondbacks or on the minor league side, like Rich Hill did on Sunday.
"You have an opportunity to build up in a controlled setting on the minor league side,” Roberts said of Maeda. “We want to make sure he gets six innings. We're still talking about that.”