By Jon Weisman
Pitching prospects Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Ross Stripling are among seven players the Dodgers sent to minor-league camp this afternoon.
From the 40-man roster, the Dodgers optioned second baseman Micah Johnson and pitchers Yaisel Sierra, Ian Thomas and Stripling. Non-roster players who were reassigned include De Leon, Urias and catcher Jack Murphy.
Johnson has made no errors despite leading Dodger infielders in playing time so far with 66 defensive innings, and is a likely callup at some point during the regular season.
Urias and De Leon have made the most noise among the pitchers, combining for eight strikeouts in nine innings, though it was actually Stripling who has had the best month. The 26-year-old right-hander, nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery, pitched two shutout innings with four strikeouts in the Dodgers’ 5-1 loss to Kansas City today, and has six innings with a 0.00 ERA in Cactus League play.
Dave Roberts ruled out Ross Stripling breaking camp as 5th starter, but added "He's impressed us" #DodgersST
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 17, 2016
None of the aforementioned pitchers, however, was destined to start the season in the Majors — least of all Sierra, the recent Cuban signee who has yet to appear in a game.
Still alive in the competition for the fifth spot in the Dodger starting rotation (behind Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood) are Brandon Beachy, Mike Bolsinger and Zach Lee. The Dodgers have only two off days in April after the regular season starts.
Making his first appearance today since March 7, Wood pitched three innings, allowing a run on five baserunners with one strikeout.
“It felt good, it was good,” Wood said, according to MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “I had one goal and that was to be efficient, which was a little different from the last time out. I was happy I was able to do that.”
Another Dodger pitching highlight today came from Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side in his inning.
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