Urias to have shoulder surgery, miss 2017
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitching phenom Julio Urias will undergo season-ending anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder on Tuesday, the club announced on Friday. The surgery by Dr. Neal ElAttrache has an estimated recovery time of 12-14 months.
"We feel pretty confident that he will pitch for us next year," president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "This is baseball, and things like this happen. Obviously, it's personal to us. We know how hard Julio worked this offseason. He had high expectations of helping us win, as did we."
The Dodgers last week said tests showed no structural damage in Urias' shoulder. But on Friday, Friedman said Urias had an "acute injury. It happened on a pitch. The fact that it's not wear and tear over the years makes the prognosis better."
The 20-year-old, who went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA as a rookie in 2016, came to Spring Training ready to compete for a spot in the starting rotation and wanting to play for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. The Dodgers nixed the latter and had different plans on the former, instituting an experimental game regimen designed to limit his innings this year to avoid such an injury, while keeping him sound and fresh for the end of the regular season and the postseason.
Despite being ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 4 overall prospect, a disappointed Urias began the season on a limited schedule in the Minor Leagues. The Dodgers promoted him in late April as planned, but he struggled with his command in five starts (0-2, 5.40 ERA). Urias returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, only to be shut down two weeks ago with shoulder pain.
"All of us feel very confident if we didn't protect him at all it could have happened sooner, could have happened in a more significant way," Friedman said.
Now, the Dodgers are without a healthy Urias for late in the season, as the lefty faces an uncertain future. Unlike Tommy John elbow reconstructions, from which pitchers routinely return to their previous performance level, serious shoulder operations have a significantly lower success rate. But the Dodgers believe Urias could be an exception because of his age and relative soundness of the shoulder.
"Dr. ElAttrache is confident he can take care of this and get him back to his accustomed level," Friedman said.
Urias' agent, Scott Boras, said his wunderkind might have had more raw talent than his body could handle.
"All the standards were in place for the last three or four years in the management of Julio," Boras said. "With his precocious talent and the execution of that talent with just a 20-year-old body, it is possible, if not probable, that with the amount of physical skill and arm speed, there's a higher level of potential for an injury like this."
The Dodgers did not make Urias available to the media, but Friedman said the pitcher "was devastated in the beginning. Right now, he's down, frankly. He wants to be here, helping these guys, wants to be a part of it. Not something that's going to happen this year."
Friedman said this is a "clean" procedure, meaning it does not involve repairing the rotator cuff or labrum, "which bodes way better for him." Urias felt the "tugging" on a specific pitch in his last Triple-A outing on June 10. Friedman said Urias pitched two more innings, hitting 96 and 97 mph, but he was "really stiff" the next morning.
Friedman added that rehab without surgery was considered but rejected because ElAttrache felt the success rate of the "clean" surgery was higher. Friedman said there was no clear comparable of a Major League pitcher facing this specific surgery.