Dodgers’ Julio Urias with big shoes to fill soon

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias waits to find out if he’ll be the team’s No. 2 starter this season, an even bigger honor awaits him down the road.

Urias is poised to take over as the Dodgers’ top left-handed starter at some point in the near future. Clayton Kershaw, who signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers after the lockout ended, still has the honor of best left-hander. He is one of the best baseball has ever seen. But the Dodgers’ internal torch will eventually have to be passed.

When Urias was last tuned up before the Dodgers’ regular season kicked off Friday in Colorado, Urias didn’t look exactly like the heir apparent the team hopes he will eventually become. He allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in just two-plus innings (61 pitches) in a 10-4 Freeway Series loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

“First and foremost, I felt good and I felt healthy,” Urias said through an interpreter. “Obviously the results didn’t show, but I felt good and that’s the goal of preparing for our start (of the season) in Colorado.”


Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declined to say Monday whether Urias would be his No. 2 starter Saturday in Colorado. Right-hander Walker Buehler has already been selected to pitch in Los Angeles’ season opener at Denver on Friday.

“I think we’re ready for the five guys who are going to start (the) first five games, I just don’t know in what order,” Roberts said.

There is no unknown situation of Urias in recent seasons. He was a hero in the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series championship run, and last year he tried unsuccessfully to rest a short while in the National League Championship Series.

Urias spat a header in relief in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, then was rocked as a starter, while taking the loss in Game 4. Both outings came on two days off as the club was ultimately eliminated.

The Mexico native remains one of the Dodgers’ most popular pitchers, earning one of the biggest standing ovations heading into Monday’s game, along with Los Angeles free agent Freddie Freeman. In Game 4 of last season’s NLCS, Freeman hit a home run against Urias, one of three he gave up that day.

With the page now turned and his spring work done, Urias is set to follow his 20-win season from 2021. He had never won more than five games in his previous five seasons and his 20-win year was the first by a Dodgers pitcher since Kershaw in 2014.

“Obviously, winning 20 games is very difficult, but these are goals we are going to set for ourselves,” Urias said. “But above all, you just want to be healthy.”

One of the runs Urias gave up on Monday was a solo home run by Brandon Marsh, who is now part of the Angels’ daily roster alongside center fielder Mike Trout. The other young everyday outfielder is Joe Adell, while first baseman Jared Walsh rounds out a trio of young Angels hitters who could expand a lineup loaded by Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon.

“Last year, without Anthony and Mike, it was really different, obviously,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of injuries to two of the team’s stars. “Walsh was riding, (Taylor) Ward was always putting his feet on the ground. Listen, we still have to (lean on Trout, Ohtani and Rendon). But the skill level of all these guys, when you go to Adell and Marsh, it’s pretty cool.

After getting home runs from Rendon, Ward and Ohtani on Sunday against the Dodgers, the Angels had two on Monday as Marsh and Jose Rojas went deep.

OFFLINE

Torut was not with the Angels, missing the match with an unspecified illness that Maddon likened to a stomach bug. … Angels second baseman David Fletcher missed his third straight game with hip strain, but the injury is not considered serious. … Freeman returned to the Dodgers after missing Sunday’s game with what Roberts called a “24 hour” bug.


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