Dodgers keeping rookie Stripling fresh

Righty participating in bullpen sessions, extended spring games as club conserves his innings

June 15th, 2016
Ross Stripling went 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with the Dodgers this season. (AP)

PHOENIX -- Ross Stripling's Twilight Zone rookie season, which began with being lifted from a no-hit debut after 7 1/3 innings in San Francisco, continued Wednesday with a bullpen session in front of almost nobody at Chase Field.

Technically, Stripling is on the Triple-A disabled list with lower body fatigue. Translated, that means management wants to conserve innings on the right elbow that underwent Tommy John reconstruction surgery two years ago. Stripling pitched 71 1/3 Minor League innings last year after missing the entire 2014 season.

So after unexpectedly making the injury-riddled big league rotation to open this season and going 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts), Stripling has spent the past month at the club's Arizona training complex, throwing bullpen sessions and single-inning appearances in extended spring games, and he will soon graduate to Arizona League games and head back to Oklahoma City before, possibly, returning to Los Angeles.

"We have this month to save innings, so we're working on stuff when we can," Stripling said. "It's a frustrating month, one inning every five days and kind of hang out. Say I have 125 or 130 [maximum innings], and I've already eaten up 70-plus. The idea is to be fresh for the end of the year if they need an arm."

As a secondary benefit, Stripling said he's cranked up his conditioning.

"Since I was hitting the 85-pitch mark and really struggling, we're using this month to get my legs strong so when I hit the 85th pitch it's like my first pitch," Stripling said. "While we have this month, that's one thing we're kind of focusing on."