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Julio Urías may join starting rotation

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MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Oakland Athletics Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Dave Roberts appears to have a problem on his hands.

No need to worry though, this is a good kind of problem to have.

With the start of the regular season about a month away, the Dodgers have yet to announce who will be in their five-man rotation. However, it’s fairly easy to pinpoint who will be the locks.

Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are guaranteed. The fifth appears to be set, as Roberts mentioned earlier in the week he envisions Kenta Maeda taking the spot.

The problem? Where does 22-year-old Julio Urías fit into the equation?

“The door is open for him,” Roberts said when asked if Urías could find himself in the starting rotation. “The opportunity will present itself if it’s supposed to.”

Urías got his first action of the spring on Wednesday. Getting the start, he retired all three batters he faced, getting two ground balls and striking out Matt Chapman to end the inning.

“Today he was really sharp,” Roberts said. “He’s been really sharp all spring. Fastball was 94-97. He’s focused. He looks great. He’s determined. He’s on that starter rotation, so we’ll see him in five days.”

Urías appeared in only three games last season after undergoing major shoulder surgery in 2017. Though he was limited during the regular season, he made a huge impact during the 2018 postseason. Urías appeared in seven games out of the bullpen, posting a 2.84 ERA while striking out five.

“I took this offseason as if it was a normal offseason,” Urias said to reporters. “Whatever opportunity they give you is an opportunity to show what you can do. Before I thought about wanting to stay here, now I focus on staying healthy and preparing and whatever decision they make is on them.”

Urías knows that he comes into camp with a chance to earn a spot in the starting rotation. “You’re here, you’re trying to win a spot,” he said. “You’re not trying to wish something bad on anybody else, you’re just trying to win the spot by yourself and get in the rotation that way. I’m here, I’m going to try my best to do that.”

As mentioned earlier, it’s going to be tricky fitting him into one of those five spots. With Kershaw dealing with a lingering injury, there’s a chance he’s not ready for Opening Day, thus opening up a spot for Julio.

“Whatever opportunity they give you, that’s always a way to show them what you can do, and you have to take advantage of that,” Urías said. “Whatever opportunity they give me, whether it’s as a starter or as a reliever, I’m going to be ready for whatever it is.”

Though Roberts has a difficult decision on his hands, he embraces is. “He’s doing everything he can to make our job difficult, which is good.”

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One of the early standouts so far during the spring has been 23-year-old outfielder D.J. Peters. Per MLB.com, Peters comes in as the 11th ranked prospect in the Dodgers organization.

There’s arguably nobody in the Dodgers’ farm system with more raw power than Peters. He’s hit 69 homers in 330 career minor league games, including 29 last year with the Tulsa Drillers.

Peters has already put his power on full display, as he leads the Dodgers with two homers so far this spring.

“This winter he really worked on some things mechanically in the batters box,” Roberts said about Peters. “His intent, how much he cares and how much he competes, we all talk about it. The at-bats he puts on guys, the hustle down the line. It seems like every time he gets out there, he makes something happen.”

Not only has he electrified with the bat, he’s also played some stellar defense as well.

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In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Dodgers signed free-agent infielder Brad Miller to a minor-league deal.

Miller, 29, spent 2018 with the Rays and Brewers, where he hit .248/.311/.413/.724. He hit seven home runs and drove in 29.

Miller’s best season came back in 2016, where he hit 30 home runs with Tampa Bay.

For his career, Miller owns a .239 batting average with a .722 OPS. He’ll fight for a roster spot on the Opening Day roster, but if not, expect to see him in a Dodgers uniform sometime this season as added infield depth.