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By Jon Weisman
At times, I felt silly about tweeting out batter-by-batter updates on Julio Urias’ outing today, but it just felt to me like the combination of the level of interest and it being his first Cactus League outing as a grown-up justified them.
What I felt badly about was the short shrift given the other noteworthy prospects on the mound for the Dodgers today. Chris Anderson pitched two perfect innings, Zach Lee walked one batter but retired the other six and Chris Reed had a perfect inning before two singles, a wild pitch and a ground out spoiled his second frame.
Nonetheless, our minds were already in full orbit around Urias.
Urias did display a bit of “Aw, shucks” fallibility that on one level was a welcome antidote to those of us who might be getting carried away with our star-gazing, as if he were a celestial body from light-years away that had already blossomed, while we were just now getting our first glimpse. Facing seven batters, he walked three and went to a full count in an eight-pitch at-bat with another.
His first inning of work, following Lee to the mound, was fairly scintillating — two strikeouts sandwiching his first walk, followed by a harmless ground out (18 pitches in all). Coming back to the mound after a long rest (the Dodgers ate up a lot of time on offense in producing their 10-1 victory over Milwaukee), Urias took eight pitches to retire Carlos Gomez, then used another eight pitches in walking Aramis Ramirez.
(It’s here that we pause and remember, that’s an 18-year-old pitcher facing two 2014 National League All-Stars. Anyone else but Urias or Clayton Kershaw would have simply dug a hole on the mound.)
That put Urias at 34 pitches with four outs on his ledger, and a pitch-count limit was nigh. Urias staved it his departure — and showcased another exciting element of his game — by picking off pinch-runner Elian Herrera.
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But after getting ahead of Khris Davis 1-2, Urias couldn’t finish him off. Davis fouled off two pitches and took three more, and that was that.
Part of me couldn’t help but wonder, “Shoot, if the guy can throw 42 pitches on March 6, couldn’t he throw 21 on August 6?” My takeaway, however, was that whatever was meant to be for Urias in a Major League uniform would all come in due time.
And flying under the radar, despite their own impressive pedigrees, Anderson, Lee and Reed should have their chances to romance us.
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Reporters naturally sought out Urias for comment afterward, and it was nice to see his enthusiastic reaction.
“It was awesome to face (Gomez) and get an out against him (on a popup) at this early stage,” Urias told MLB.com’s Lyle Spencer, who noted that the pitcher’s father, grandfather and brother were watching. “I felt good, comfortable.”
Also weighing in was the man himself, Fernando Valenzuela.
“He was relaxed, nice and loose,” Valenzuela said, via Spencer. “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He has a good fastball with life and throws a nice curveball and changeup. He got ahead (in counts), but they didn’t chase. He looks like he can be something special.”
A.J. Ellis put the outing in perspective, in Eric Stephen’s writeup at True Blue L.A.
“He looked like a guy making his first start of spring training. A little bit erratic, a little bit anxious,” Ellis said. “When you’re erratic and anxious, but still have electric stuff, you can get away with a lot of things. We saw a little bit of everything.”
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It was also another fine day for the Dodger bats, mainly against the Brewers but also in their 7-4 split-squad victory over the Mariners.
In support of Lee, Urias, Reed and Associates, Ellis had a walk and a three-run home run, Yasiel Puig had a single and two walks. Joc Pederson and Alex Guerrero each went 2 for 3 with an extra-base hit (double for Pederson, home run for Guerrero) to keep them a matched set with .714 batting averages this month.
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“There is a very short window to make the team,” Guerrero told Stephen. “I’ve prepared a lot in the offseason, so I have to jump right in with a short time to prove myself. Mentally I’m confident, I’m relaxed, so that’s a difference too.”
Scott Schebler had two doubles, and Kyle Jensen followed up Thursday’s home run with two singles today. Darnell Sweeney got in the act, hitting a single and the Dodgers’ third home run off Milwaukee pitching. The Dodgers had 22 baserunners in that game, while Milwaukee ended up with a runs-hits-errors linescore of 1 2 3.
Joey Curletta ended the rout with a diving catch in right field.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 6, 2015
Back at Camelback, O’Koyea Dickson hit his second home run of Spring Training, after Adrian Gonzalez went 1 for 2 at first base. Erisbel Arruebarrena had two hits, after Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 2 at short. Howie Kendrick, Andre Ethier and Shawn Zarraga gave the Dodgers a total of six 1-for-2 batters in the game.