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Walker Buehler strikes out 5 in Cactus League debut

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MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — Walker Buehler saw his first major league game action of this spring, pitching two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win over the Cubs on Saturday night at Camelback Ranch.

Buehler struck out five on the night including his first two batters looking in the eighth inning. After allowing a single to open the ninth Buehler struck out his final three batters faced.

He finished up the game against the Cubs by retiring six of the seven batters he faced. The right-hander also hit 99 mph on the radar gun, which from his 6’2, 175-pound frame elicited a unique comparison from manager Dave Roberts.

“He’s kind of like Tim Lincecum,” Roberts said, referring to the two-time Cy Young Award winner. “He’s got that wiry strength, that fast twitch. It’s a gift from God.”

The Dodgers are still figuring out how to utilize that gift, which will include monitoring his innings in his second full year back from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old right-hander has also been on a slow path this spring after some back tightness in January.

That’s why Saturday was his first Cactus League game this spring, though he did pitch one inning in a B game last Monday against the White Sox.

The main obstacle Buehler faced on Saturday was home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who had a long conference with Roberts as Buehler entered the game. At issue was Buehler’s gray glove, which was in violation of major league Rule 3.07(a):

The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner. No fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE® color set lighter than the current 14-series.

“Fortunately Mark let us do it in an exhibition, but Walker’s got to get a new glove,” Roberts said.

Coaching shuffle

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will miss about a week tending to a personal issue, Roberts said. Bullpen coach Mark Prior was the acting pitching coach in Saturday’s game, with Tripl-e-A Oklahoma City pitching coach Bill Simas the acting bullpen coach.

Up next

The Dodgers are on the road on Sunday afternoon, heading to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale to play the Rockies, with Hyun-jin Ryu on the mound. German Marquez starts for Colorado.

The game is a 1:05 p.m. PT start, with daylight savings time taking effect and equalizing Arizona with the Pacific coast.