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Buehler optioned, but likely to start Saturday

Top prospect sent to nearby Rancho Cucamonga; reliever Hudson recalled
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers demoted top prospect Walker Buehler to Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, but fans need not worry -- it's just a logistical move.

Buehler fired five scoreless innings against the Marlins in his first MLB start Monday night and was optioned to make room on the roster for reliever Daniel Hudson, bringing the bullpen count back to nine.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers demoted top prospect Walker Buehler to Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, but fans need not worry -- it's just a logistical move.

Buehler fired five scoreless innings against the Marlins in his first MLB start Monday night and was optioned to make room on the roster for reliever Daniel Hudson, bringing the bullpen count back to nine.

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Hudson worked a perfect seventh inning against the Marlins, striking out two.

On Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wouldn't confirm it (because Buehler is not on the 25-man roster), but the rookie will likely be added as the 26th man to start the first game of Saturday's doubleheader in San Francisco. That's why he was sent to Rancho Cucamonga and not Triple-A Oklahoma City, where Hudson had been pitching.

"To keep him local gives us that option if we want to use him Saturday," Roberts said. "He reported there today, got his work in and we'll see how it plays out."

Rich Hill, who threw a four-inning, 58-pitch simulated game on Tuesday, will come off the disabled list to start Monday in Arizona, followed by Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday and Alex Wood on Thursday.

"It went well," Hill said of his workout. "Felt fine and got good feedback from the swings."

Hudson was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent on March 30. He made five relief appearances with the OKC Dodgers this season without allowing a hit in 4 2/3 innings, striking out five.

The 31-year-old right-hander, who was traded to Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh on Feb. 22, appeared in seven games with the Rays during Spring Training, allowing nine runs in 5 1/3 innings, with six strikeouts. He was released by Tampa Bay, and will receive $5.5 million this year. The Dodgers will pay only the Major League minimum portion of it.

Roberts compared Hudson's pitch mix to that of current Dodgers reliever JT Chargois. A former starter with the White Sox and D-backs, Hudson missed the second half of the 2012 season and the entire '13 campaign after having two Tommy John elbow reconstructions. He resumed his career at the end of '14 as a reliever. Last year with the Pirates, he went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 71 games.

The Dodgers are looking at Hudson as a possible fill-in for Tom Koehler, who suffered a sprained right shoulder capsule in Spring Training. Koehler was moved to the 60-day disabled list on Monday and is not expected back until around the All-Star break. Koehler was signed in part to replace Brandon Morrow as the primary right-handed set-up man for closer Kenley Jansen.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler, Daniel Hudson

LA wins 7th of 8 after Buehler's scoreless 5

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers top prospect Walker Buehler showed off all of his tools in his first MLB start Monday night, including his confidence.

He fired off five scoreless innings, dazzling at times, in a game the Dodgers pulled out late, 2-1, over the Marlins on Cody Bellinger's eighth-inning sacrifice fly. Officially, it was a no-decision for Buehler, although the decision in the Dodgers' clubhouse was unanimous.

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LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers top prospect Walker Buehler showed off all of his tools in his first MLB start Monday night, including his confidence.

He fired off five scoreless innings, dazzling at times, in a game the Dodgers pulled out late, 2-1, over the Marlins on Cody Bellinger's eighth-inning sacrifice fly. Officially, it was a no-decision for Buehler, although the decision in the Dodgers' clubhouse was unanimous.

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"Walker was electric," said former Marlin Kiké Hernandez, who was the offensive and defensive star, subbing at shortstop for Corey Seager with a home run, two singles and a pair of Gold Glove-caliber gems. "We expect that and more from him. We expect a lot from him.

"Not too often you get drafted in the first round when you need Tommy John surgery. So, this kid must be a stud. He's pretty confident, pretty cocky. Fastball looked like it was 120 [mph] from playing shortstop. The slider looked like 100 as well. It's pretty fun watching, playing behind him. He's got special talent and hopefully we'll see that for a very long time."

Hernandez shows why he's Roberts' go-to sub

Video: Must C Combo: Hernandez's flashy pair of plays at SS

The Dodgers have won seven of their last eight games, while the Marlins have lost 15 of 18. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was non-committal after the game, but earlier indications were that Buehler will start again on Saturday in the doubleheader in San Francisco.

Recalled to sub for the injured Rich Hill against Miami, Buehler needed a professional-career-high 89 pitches to get through the five innings. Roberts said Buehler will learn to be more efficient, but he had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old.

"You look at the heartbeat, and there's no panic," Roberts said. "He steps up and makes pitches when he needs to. We talked about the confidence earlier, and I think it's real. I know it's real. He just feels he can make a pitch when he needs to make a pitch, and he doesn't scare off. There's a learning curve that's happening before our eyes."

Video: MIA@LAD: Roberts talks win over Marlins, Buehler

Buehler, ranked as the game's No. 12 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, flashed a fastball that peaked at 99.5 mph in the first inning and peaked at 96.4 mph in the fifth.

"We had guys out there early, but he's obviously a guy with a tremendous arm and probably will just keep getting better," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

Buehler has been handled with kid gloves since signing with a damaged elbow that needed surgery. He opened this season in the Minor Leagues so management can throttle back his innings early, intending to keep him fresh for late in the season after throwing only 98 innings last year.

Buehler said his pitches Monday night weren't really good or bad, and after struggling to command his four-seam fastball in the early innings, he switched to a two-seamer the last two.

"It would be great to go and dominate, but to put up zeros and come out of the thing unscathed is the biggest thing," Buehler said. "The more comfortable I get here, the fastball command will come. I don't think I've thrown 89 pitches since the College World Series, so that was a wake-up for me."

The Dodgers held on in the ninth. With closer Kenley Jansen and Tony Cingrani unavailable after pitching the previous two games, Ross Stripling pitched two scoreless innings after Buehler and Josh Fields pitched the ninth for the save.

Video: MIA@LAD: Fields induces fly out to record the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A bunt, not just a blast: Hernandez provided the first hit and run with his homer, but a bunt single during the game-winning eighth-inning rally was key. After Chris Taylor's leadoff double, Hernandez dropped a perfect bunt and Miami pitcher Kyle Barraclough grabbed the ball but didn't make a throw. Bellinger followed with his screaming sacrifice liner that scored Taylor with the decisive run.

Video: MIA@LAD: Bellinger hits a go-ahead sacrifice fly

Landing a big punchout: The Marlins worked Buehler in the first, loading the bases and making him throw 26 pitches. The last was a foul tip that struck out J.B. Shuck, catcher Yasmani Grandal holding onto the ball to end the inning.

Video: MIA@LAD: Buehler K's Shuck to escape bases-loaded jam

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Super sub: Hernandez was making only his second start of the year in place of Seager at shortstop, but he looked like a Gold Glove candidate twice. With two outs and a runner on first in the second inning, Hernandez went into the hole and with his power arm threw out Miguel Rojas at first base. The next play was even tougher, with one out in the third inning ranging up the middle for a diving stop of Starlin Castro's bouncer, spinning to his feet and cutting down Castro at first.

Video: MIA@LAD: Hernandez displays incredible defense

HE SAID IT
"Yeah, homers are fun." -- Hernandez

Video: MIA@LAD: Hernandez rips a solo homer to left-center

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers (11-10) climbed above .500 for the first time this season.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Marlins challenged a foul-ball call on J.T. Realmuto's flare down the right-field line in the first inning. The call was confirmed. Realmuto's at-bat continued and he singled to left field.

Video: MIA@LAD: Realmuto foul ball gets challenged

UP NEXT
Seager is expected to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night when Kenta Maeda makes the 7:10 p.m. PT start against the Marlins and lefty Dillon Peters. Seager did not start Monday night against Garcia, but entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Maeda has tried to be more aggressive early in the count, and the results are mixed. Strikeouts are up (24 in 14 1/3 innings), but so are hits (20) and walks (five).

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Enrique Hernandez

Buehler set to make first big league start

Dodgers' No. 1 prospect to face Marlins in series opener
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Twenty games into the 2017 season, the Dodgers called up Cody Bellinger as a temporary injury replacement, and the rest is history.

On Monday, 20 games into the 2018 season, they will call up Walker Buehler to make his first Major League start, replacing the injured Rich Hill. Buehler, the Dodgers' top prospect, will probably also start in Saturday's doubleheader against the Giants before being returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. At least that's manager Dave Roberts' story and he was sticking to it on Sunday.

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LOS ANGELES -- Twenty games into the 2017 season, the Dodgers called up Cody Bellinger as a temporary injury replacement, and the rest is history.

On Monday, 20 games into the 2018 season, they will call up Walker Buehler to make his first Major League start, replacing the injured Rich Hill. Buehler, the Dodgers' top prospect, will probably also start in Saturday's doubleheader against the Giants before being returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. At least that's manager Dave Roberts' story and he was sticking to it on Sunday.

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"Correct," Roberts said when asked whether that was the plan.

The 23-year-old Buehler is baseball's No. 12 prospect and the No. 4 right-handed prospect, per MLB Pipeline. He pitched briefly for the Dodgers out of the bullpen in a September callup last year.

"We had a couple of in-house options, but to get him a start, he's pitching well, we just felt it was a good decision," said Roberts. "I would say he's six [innings] and 90 [pitches], that would totally be fair."

Buehler struggled in his September debut with the Dodgers, recording a 7.71 ERA over eight appearances. Buehler reported to Spring Training in February with back soreness that limited his Cactus League action to two games, but he struck out seven with one walk one over four scoreless innings once he was healthy.

In three starts this year for OKC, Buehler is 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 16 strikeouts and four walks in 13 innings. He needed 80 pitches to get through four innings on Monday in his most recent start.

"It's exciting. It's the big leagues and it's time to go now," said Buehler, who arrived in time to play catch before Sunday's game.

Buehler said the timing of this callup was more surprising than last September's, but the fact that he's back as a starter makes this one "a little more settling," because "I'm doing what I've been doing my whole career."

"The hitters are good, you know that," he said. "You don't realize how good they are until you see them in person. But, most of us here are pretty good too and you try to remember that."

Management has been determined to thread the needle between stretching out his innings (he threw only 98 innings last year) and keeping him fresh enough to be a rotation factor down the stretch in 2018. The Dodgers haven't confirmed a speculated target of between 135 to 150 innings this year.

Roberts said the overall success of the current starting rotation allows management to continue deferring Buehler's permanent recall until later in the season.

"When he's in the Minors, you can manage his innings and usage a lot better than here," Roberts said. "He can go four or five innings there, and that's not the goal here. Each potential start he would make here chips away at the overall usage we want him to throw in a season. It's best to save him for when he does get here and stays."

The last-place Marlins would appear to be a soft spot for Buehler's return to the Major Leagues.

While in the Dodgers' bullpen last September, Buehler showed glimpses of future greatness with his electric arm, but also the wildness that often plagues young, hard throwers (eight walks in 9 1/3 innings). Still, he struck out 12, finishing the season with 137 strikeouts in 98 innings.

Roberts said he has "high hopes, high hopes" for Buehler's unveiling.

"September, obviously it was moving pretty quick for him," Roberts said. "It was a learning process. But I think Spring Training he showed really well. I love his four-pitch mix and I think he's going to come here and pitch well."

Buehler was credited with his first Major League victory on Sept. 21 at Philadelphia with a scoreless inning of relief and two strikeouts. He was selected as the Dodgers Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017.

Despite requiring Tommy John surgery after his selection in the first round of the 2015 Draft, the slender Buehler has regained his triple-digit velocity with a high-spin rate. He also has a sharp curveball and slider.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

Bucs claim right-hander Liranzo from Dodgers

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates claimed right-hander Jesus Liranzo on waivers from the Dodgers on Thursday and optioned him to Double-A Altoona.

Liranzo was designated for assignment by Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Dodgers traded left-hander Luis Ysla to Baltimore to acquire Liranzo. The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander is 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 170 innings over 91 appearances in five Minor League seasons.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates claimed right-hander Jesus Liranzo on waivers from the Dodgers on Thursday and optioned him to Double-A Altoona.

Liranzo was designated for assignment by Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Dodgers traded left-hander Luis Ysla to Baltimore to acquire Liranzo. The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander is 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 170 innings over 91 appearances in five Minor League seasons.

Like many pitchers the Pirates prioritize on the waiver wire, Liranzo boasts impressive strikeout numbers (10.7 per nine in the Minors) and high walk totals (5.5 per nine). Listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Liranzo went 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 65 innings over 31 appearances (12 starts) for Double-A Bowie last season.

Pittsburgh had three open spots on its 40-man roster after removing a few players late in Spring Training, so the Bucs did not need to make a corresponding move. The Pirates now have 38 players on their 40-man roster, plus Rule 5 reliever Nick Burdi on the 60-day disabled list.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Jesus Liranzo

Where Dodgers' Top 30 prospects are starting season

MLB.com

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Dodgers' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Walker Buehler (MLB No. 12), RHP -- Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)
2. Alex Verdugo (MLB No. 33), OF -- Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)
3. Keibert Ruiz (MLB No. 52), C -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
4. Mitchell White, RHP -- Extended spring training
5. Yusniel Diaz, OF -- Extended spring training
6. D.J. Peters, OF -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
7. Jeren Kendall, OF -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
8. Yadier Alvarez, RHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
9. Will Smith, C -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
10. Dennis Santana, RHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
11. Dustin May, RHP -- Extended spring training
12. Edwin Rios, 1B/3B/OF -- Extended spring training
13. Gavin Lux, SS/2B -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
14. Cristian Santana, 3B -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
15. Connor Wong, C -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
16. Caleb Ferguson, LHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
17. Starling Heredia, OF -- Great Lakes Loons (A)
18. Jordan Sheffield, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
19. Imani Abdullah, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
20. Errol Robinson, SS/2B -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
21. Morgan Cooper, RHP -- Extended spring training
22. James Marinan, RHP -- Extended spring training
23. Matt Beaty, 1B/3B -- Extended spring training
24. Tony Gonsolin, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
25. Kyle Farmer, C/3B -- Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
26. Drew Jackson, 2B/SS -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
27. Romer Cuadrado, OF -- Great Lakes Loons (A)
28. Ronny Brito, SS -- Extended spring training
29. Luke Raley, OF/1B -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
30. Donovan Casey, OF -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Dodgers' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Walker Buehler (MLB No. 12), RHP -- Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)
2. Alex Verdugo (MLB No. 33), OF -- Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)
3. Keibert Ruiz (MLB No. 52), C -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
4. Mitchell White, RHP -- Extended spring training
5. Yusniel Diaz, OF -- Extended spring training
6. D.J. Peters, OF -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
7. Jeren Kendall, OF -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
8. Yadier Alvarez, RHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
9. Will Smith, C -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
10. Dennis Santana, RHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
11. Dustin May, RHP -- Extended spring training
12. Edwin Rios, 1B/3B/OF -- Extended spring training
13. Gavin Lux, SS/2B -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
14. Cristian Santana, 3B -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
15. Connor Wong, C -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
16. Caleb Ferguson, LHP -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
17. Starling Heredia, OF -- Great Lakes Loons (A)
18. Jordan Sheffield, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
19. Imani Abdullah, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
20. Errol Robinson, SS/2B -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
21. Morgan Cooper, RHP -- Extended spring training
22. James Marinan, RHP -- Extended spring training
23. Matt Beaty, 1B/3B -- Extended spring training
24. Tony Gonsolin, RHP -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)
25. Kyle Farmer, C/3B -- Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
26. Drew Jackson, 2B/SS -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
27. Romer Cuadrado, OF -- Great Lakes Loons (A)
28. Ronny Brito, SS -- Extended spring training
29. Luke Raley, OF/1B -- Tulsa Drillers (AA)
30. Donovan Casey, OF -- Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A Adv)

• Dodgers prospect coverage | Dodgers Top 30 prospects stats

Team to watch
Though the Dodgers' top two prospects, right-hander Walker Buehler and outfielder Alex Verdugo, are teaming up at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Double-A Tulsa is even more loaded. The Drillers feature the best catching tandem in the Minors in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, an imposing slugger in outfielder D.J. Peters (the 2017 high Class A California League MVP) and a pair of flamethrowing righties in Yadier Alvarez and Dennis Santana. Once they're deemed ready to leave extended spring training, righty Mitchell White and Yusniel Diaz will arrive in Tulsa, giving the Drillers seven of the system's 10 best prospects.

Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2018 season

Teams on MiLB.TV
Oklahoma City Dodgers
Tulsa Drillers
Great Lakes Loons

New faces
Right-hander Morgan Cooper, a second-rounder last June, has yet to make his pro debut after coming down with shoulder tendinitis last summer.

On the shelf
The Dodgers are playing it safe with several of their top prospects, keeping them in extended spring training for brief periods at the start of the season after they came down with minor dings this spring. That group includes: White and Diaz, who will head to Tulsa; corner infielders Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty (the 2017 Double-A Texas League MVP), ticketed for Oklahoma City when ready; and right-hander Dustin May, who will be assigned to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Cooper still is sidelined and will embark on a throwing program later this month.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Farmer forcing way into third-base mix

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Kyle Farmer was in the Major Leagues for six weeks last year and started one game. On Sunday night, he started for the second time in four games, and manager Dave Roberts indicated there are more starts to come.

"To have him on the roster and not play him doesn't make a whole lot of sense," said Roberts. "He'll get some starts and see how he responds."

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LOS ANGELES -- Kyle Farmer was in the Major Leagues for six weeks last year and started one game. On Sunday night, he started for the second time in four games, and manager Dave Roberts indicated there are more starts to come.

"To have him on the roster and not play him doesn't make a whole lot of sense," said Roberts. "He'll get some starts and see how he responds."

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Farmer made the club, and is getting starts at third base, because Justin Turner is on the disabled list with a fractured wrist. Supposedly a third catcher, Farmer, in fact, is a converted shortstop who said he feels at home at third base, as he showed making two tough defensive plays Saturday night.

Farmer impressed the staff with an offseason conditioning and stretching program that made his hips more flexible and allowed him to better frame low pitches when he caught. After Turner was injured, Roberts initially said Logan Forsythe would play third base with Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez sharing second base. Farmer is forcing his way into the mix.

"This gives us a little opportunity to get his bat in there when we want to give Logan a blow," said Roberts. "His body is more limber. He's a strong kid. The mobility with the hips this past winter helped on both sides of the ball. He allows us to free up a catcher, that's a luxury. We'll get a good look at Kyle."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kyle Farmer

Buehler lights up radar gun in first spring start

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In his first Cactus League start, Walker Buehler added two scoreless innings on Friday to the one he pitched on Saturday.

The Dodgers' top prospect has already been sent to the Minor Leagues, and management is hoping to keep him fresh for late-season starts. It attempted the same thing last year with Julio Urias, but he blew out his left shoulder pitching at Triple-A and needed surgery.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In his first Cactus League start, Walker Buehler added two scoreless innings on Friday to the one he pitched on Saturday.

The Dodgers' top prospect has already been sent to the Minor Leagues, and management is hoping to keep him fresh for late-season starts. It attempted the same thing last year with Julio Urias, but he blew out his left shoulder pitching at Triple-A and needed surgery.

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When pressed for details about his upcoming schedule, Buehler said it's above his pay grade.

"I'm 23 and I feel good with where I'm at and what I'm trying to accomplish," said Buehler, who was on a two-inning/40-pitch limit. "Hopefully it all works out, and the biggest thing is this team is winning. And if I'm a part of that, great, and if not, they've got some good guys out there."

Video: LAD@ARI: Buehler discusses facing D-backs

Buehler struck out two, walked one and threw a wild pitch in Friday's 4-1 loss the D-backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. He didn't allow a hit and touched 99 mph on the radar gun, needing 38 pitches (20 strikes) when facing much of Arizona's regulars.

"I thought he threw well," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He got ahead of some guys and didn't put them away as efficiently as he'd like. Velocity was really good. It's amazing what comes out of the body and that arm. The next piece, with the swing-and-miss pitches, is to put hitters away. But a lot of good stuff."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Decisions to be made
The Dodgers have four players on the 40-man roster that are out of options this spring.

Left-handed reliever Tony Cingrani, acquired from the Reds for the stretch run last year, is a bullpen lock. Tom Koehler, signed as a free agent to help fill the void left by the departure of free agent Brandon Morrow, sprained his shoulder capsule and will open the season on the disabled list.

Wilmer Font, last year's Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year, has a decent shot at the final bullpen spot, despite allowing three runs in two innings on Friday. His toughest competition is probably Yimi Garcia, who is coming off Tommy John surgery.

"The second inning was considerably better than the first inning," Roberts said of Font. "His velocity ticked up, he was striking with the breaking ball. He'll have a few more outings. It's good to see a little growth."

Trayce Thompson, whose promising career was sidetracked by two fractured vertebrae in 2016, is a long shot in the crowded outfield. He has a .310 average this spring with little power. Thompson, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo are battling favorite Andrew Toles for the final outfield spot, assuming Matt Kemp is on the club.

Camp battle
Kemp started in left field and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Utility man Kyle Farmer finished 1-for-2 as designated hitter in his bid for a bench spot.

Game highlights
Cody Bellinger homered -- his second of the spring -- for the Dodgers' lone run. In addition to Buehler's start, ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte continued his long-shot run with a scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 0.96.

Video: LAD@ARI: Bellinger launches solo shot to right-center

Injury Update
Corey Seager started his first Cactus League game on defense, fielding both grounders hit his way and throwing on target to first. Seager said his elbow, which he injured last year and slowed his spring progression, felt fine.

Dylan Baker (side strain) made his first appearance since Feb. 27, allowing one run in the eighth inning.

Up Next
Hyun-Jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers at 1:05 p.m. PT on Saturday against Miguel Gonzalez and the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Watch live on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

Dodgers' Buehler among 7 roster moves

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers made seven more roster moves on Monday, most notably optioning top pitching prospect Walker Buehler to the Minor Leagues.

They also optioned Edward Paredes and Rob Segedin and reassigned infielder Max Muncy, catcher Will Smith and pitcher Manny Banuelos to Minor League camp and released reliever Mark Lowe.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers made seven more roster moves on Monday, most notably optioning top pitching prospect Walker Buehler to the Minor Leagues.

They also optioned Edward Paredes and Rob Segedin and reassigned infielder Max Muncy, catcher Will Smith and pitcher Manny Banuelos to Minor League camp and released reliever Mark Lowe.

Buehler, the Dodgers' No. 12 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, struck out five in two innings on Saturday, his first Cactus League game after a slow start because he reported with a back injury sustained in the offseason.

Spring: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

"With Walker, we want to continue building him up," manager Dave Roberts said. "He's shown well. Got a late start physically, but we'll try to get him back here to make a start later this week. He understands where he's at."

Although Buehler worked as a reliever during his September callup last year, he is viewed as a front-line starting pitcher with a high-90s fastball, a sharp curve and a low-90s changeup. Nonetheless, Roberts said Buehler's one dazzling outing hasn't tempted the Dodgers to accelerate his arrival.

"I think it's more validating what we already know about Walker," Roberts said. "What he went through in September was a learning experience. He's a piece that we're looking forward to and counting on. It's not being tempted. We have a plan in place and feel good about it and just knowing he's going to be a part of it."

Muncy is healing from a strained oblique muscle.

Routine
Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw was happier with his slider in Monday's start during the Dodgers' 7-6 loss to Milwaukee.

Kershaw struck out seven with one walk in a scoreless 3 2/3-innings outing that ended when he reached a pitch limit, although he threw another inning in the bullpen afterward to simulate an extra up-and-down.

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"A little better," said Kershaw, who said his slider needed work after his previous start five days earlier against the Angels. "The last couple innings got a little better rhythm, slider better and that's important for me. Encouraging, another step forward."

Kershaw was removed shortly after a line-drive double by Jesus Aguilar turned around left fielder Matt Kemp.

"The last time I pushed [Kershaw] a little in Tempe, so on regular rest I felt 65 pitches made sense," Roberts said. "I think this is as good as he's thrown the baseball [this spring]. Fastball had carry and slider by far the best he's thrown it. The feel was very good. Today was a good day for him."

Camp battle
Kemp, starting in left field, went 0-for-3 with a run scored and a strikeout; Joc Pederson, starting in center field, went 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored; Andrew Toles, starting in right field, went 1-for-4 with a strikeout; Trayce Thompson was 1-for-2 off the bench; and Alex Verdugo was 1-for-2 off the bench.

Injury update
Second baseman Logan Forsythe hasn't played in the field since Friday after experiencing mild soreness in his throwing arm. But he was the designated hitter in Monday's "B" game and expects to return to the lineup later this week.

Up next
After a day off on Tuesday, the Dodgers resume play on Wednesday night when Ross Stripling starts against Jon Gray and the Rockies in a 7:05 p.m. PT game at Camelback Ranch. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV. Alex Wood is slated to pitch in a Minor League game.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

Buehler fans 5 Cubs in 'electric' Cactus debut

'Everything came out as a strike,' Roberts says of Dodgers' top prospect
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Despite being "slow played" this spring to ration his arm, the wraps came off Walker Buehler Saturday night for his first Cactus League appearance this spring, and he was dazzling.

Rewarding fans who endured drizzles and stayed until the end of a 6-5 Dodgers walk-off win over a Cubs split squad, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect struck out five of the six batters he faced in two scoreless innings, hit 98 mph on the radar gun and recorded his final out on a changeup.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Despite being "slow played" this spring to ration his arm, the wraps came off Walker Buehler Saturday night for his first Cactus League appearance this spring, and he was dazzling.

Rewarding fans who endured drizzles and stayed until the end of a 6-5 Dodgers walk-off win over a Cubs split squad, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect struck out five of the six batters he faced in two scoreless innings, hit 98 mph on the radar gun and recorded his final out on a changeup.

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Buehler's spring got off to a late start because of a minor back injury sustained in the offseason. His only previous outing was one inning in a "B" game on Monday (when he struck out the side), as management hopes to preserve him to start in the big leagues later in the year without a huge jump from his innings total from last season (98).

Buehler is not expected to make the Opening Day roster, as the starting rotation is full, although continued dominance will make that tempting. He said he now expects to ramp up activity by pitching every five days.

Buehler's only real challenge was when his entry into the game was delayed by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who objected to Buehler's gray glove. He was allowed to use it, but he won't during the season.

"His mix was good," said manager Dave Roberts. "Everything came out as a strike, the stuff was electric."

Buehler was upbeat after the outing, especially with the changeup, which he said is the last pitch to come around following his 2015 Tommy John surgery. He said the two changeups he threw in this game matched his total amount last year.

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"A lot of it is subconscious. I don't think you actively do it," he said. "Last year, a lot of times the first one I'd throw would be fine and the rest would be terrible. I'm finally getting over that hurdle. That's a pitch you really have to get out over, and the full extension of that pitch can be in the back of your mind a little daunting."

Overall, results were mixed for Dodgers pitchers in the game. Starter Rich Hill cruised again with four strikeouts in four innings, allowing just one hit. But none of three relievers vying for bullpen spots had clean outings.

J.T. Chargois was the best of the trio, allowing a hit in one scoreless inning. Yimi Garcia allowed a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning, while Pedro Baez had the toughest time and was charged with four runs in two-thirds of an inning after retiring the first two batters he faced.

Offensively, Enrique Hernandez continued his magic against the Cubs with a three-run game-tying homer in the seventh inning. Chris Taylor, Andrew Toles and Yasiel Puig either scored a run or drove one in.

Video: CHC@LAD: Hernandez crushes a three-run homer to right

Evacuation
The club made mass cuts after Saturday night's game. Players who were optioned to the Minors included Brock Stewart, Tim Locastro, Henry Owens and Dennis Santana. Reassigned to Minor League camp were these non-roster players: C Keibert Ruiz, C Shawn Zarraga, INF Matt Beaty, INF Drew Jackson, INF Edwin Rios, OF Yusniel Diaz, OF DJ Peters, OF Henry Ramos, OF Travis Taijeron, RHP Zach Neal, RHP Yaisel Sierra, RHP Joe Broussard, RHP Daniel Corcino, RHP CC Lee, LHP Brian Moran and RHP Brian Schlitter.

Stewart wasn't expected to make the Opening Day roster, but he wasn't expected to be in the first round of cuts, either. He allowed three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring.

Coaching update
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will be away from the club for five days for personal reasons. In his absence, bullpen coach Mark Prior will serve as pitching coach and Triple-A pitching coach Bill Simas will serve as bullpen coach.

Camp battle
Among the outfielders, Toles, who served as DH on Saturday, was 1-for-3 with an RBI double and run scored; Joc Pederson started in left field and went 1-for-3; Trayce Thompson came off the bench to go 1-for-2; and Alex Verdugo came off the bench and was 0-for-1.

Injury update
Shortstop Corey Seager will play defense in either a "B" game against the White Sox or a Minor League game on Monday. It will be the first game test in the field of Seager's right elbow, which he rehabbed over the offseason instead of repairing with surgery.

Up next: Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers on Sunday against German Marquez and the Rockies at Salt River Field. Justin Turner, Matt Kemp and Logan Forsythe will likely return to the lineup. The game will be available on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

Pipeline report: Dodgers camp

MLB.com

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Dodgers.

The Dodgers farm system placed No. 1 in MLB Pipeline's talent rankings entering the 2016 season, and it certainly has lived up to the hype.

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Dodgers.

The Dodgers farm system placed No. 1 in MLB Pipeline's talent rankings entering the 2016 season, and it certainly has lived up to the hype.

Dodgers Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with DJ Peters

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

It produced the last two National League Rookies of the Year in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, as well as ace-in-the-making Julio Urias (who's recovering from shoulder surgery), Austin Barnes, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart. The system also produced oodles of trade ammunition -- including past or present Top 100 Prospects Willie Calhoun, Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, Zach Lee and Frankie Montas -- that yielded players such as Yu Darvish, Logan Forsythe, Rich Hill, Chris Taylor and Tony Watson. All told, 17 of the prospects on our Dodgers Top 30 two years ago have either graduated or been dealt.

And yet the Dodgers have remained a fixture in our system rankings, checking in at No. 10 in our latest edition. Farm director Brandon Gomes said he immediately noticed the quality and depth of Los Angeles' prospects when he joined the organization as pitching coordinator of performance last year.

"It's incredible depth of talent that we have," said Gomes, who pitched in the big leagues with the Rays for five seasons. "There are guys not in our Top 20, who would be in a lot of Top 20s. Our scouts are doing a great job of getting high-end arms with big velocity and impressive stuff. We're a very spoiled player-development staff with all the talent we have here."

The Dodgers have two more prime Rookie of the Year candidates in their two best prospects, right-hander Walker Buehler and outfielder Alex Verdugo, though neither has a clear path for playing time on a club that came within one win of a World Series championship a year ago. (Then again, Bellinger didn't have a clear path at the beginning of 2017 either.) There are few prospects in baseball who can match Buehler's combination of stuff and polish or Verdugo's pure hitting ability.

"For both of those guys, we just want them to get a little more physical and work on the nuances of the game," Gomes said. "Walker barely even has 100 professional innings yet, and now that we've gotten him through a full season, we're starting to get him to break down hitters and understand what he needs to do with his pitches. Alex is in really good shape and he's really driving the ball well in Spring Training. He really controls the strike zone and he's beginning to understand when he can impact the baseball."

There's a good chance that Buehler, who has been slowed by discomfort in his upper back, and Verdugo will open the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City. But it's Double-A Tulsa that will be the most stacked team in the system.

Video: Buehler, Verdugo on lessons from big league debuts

The Drillers' rotation will feature live-armed right-handers Mitchell White, Yadier Alvarez and Dennis Santana as well as the system's top left-hander in Caleb Ferguson. They'll be handled by two of the game's best catching prospects, Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, and Tulsa will have a physical, all-prospect outfield with Yusniel Diaz, DJ Peters and Luke Raley.

Camp standouts

Los Angeles spent $16 million on a bonus and a matching amount as a penalty tax to sign Alvarez in July 2015. He has electric stuff, but has difficulty harnessing it, as evidenced by his 50 walks in 92 1/3 innings last year between high Class A and Double-A. While many scouts outside the organization think he's destined for the bullpen, the Dodgers believe in him as a starter and have seen encouraging signs in Minor League camp this spring.

"He was 95-98 mph the other day in live BP, with an 82-83 12-to-6 curveball and an 88-89 slider," Gomes said. "It was elite big league stuff. He has been all over the strike zone in his bullpens and his live BP the other day.

"We push our guys and challenge them so they can deal with adversity. He went through command struggles last year but he's much better for it."

Six of the Dodgers' top seven hitters in Cactus League play so far are prospects: Ruiz (.667), catcher/third baseman Kyle Farmer (.538), middle infielder Omar Estevez (.500), Peters (.467), Verdugo (.400) and utilityman Jake Peter (.368). Peters and Verdugo have slammed two homers each, while Peters has drilled three and is tied for second in baseball with 12 RBIs.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers get spring gifts on annual Glove Day

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wilson glove rep Scott Paulson made his annual spring visit to the Dodgers' training camp with a pair of personalized gloves for Clayton Kershaw, knowing in all likelihood Kershaw won't be using them in a game.

"He's had the same glove for years," Paulson said. "It's got a rip three inches long. He won't let it go."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wilson glove rep Scott Paulson made his annual spring visit to the Dodgers' training camp with a pair of personalized gloves for Clayton Kershaw, knowing in all likelihood Kershaw won't be using them in a game.

"He's had the same glove for years," Paulson said. "It's got a rip three inches long. He won't let it go."

Paulson recalls that shortstop Shawon Dunston used the same glove his entire 18-year career. Craig Counsell's infield glove lasted 12 seasons. Kershaw said he got his glove in 2009, and it has helped him win an MVP Award and three Cy Youngs, so he has no intention of switching now.

"Mine's getting close to its last legs. We'll see how long it can go," said Kershaw. "I'm a creature of habit, I guess. It's special to get new gloves. I remember as a kid, it was like a Christmas present to get a new glove. I just like things that are broken in. If it's still working, why change?"

Among other Dodgers, Wilson delivered a glove to Rich Hill that was designed by his son, Brice, with a Brooklyn Dodger "B" on it. Alex Wood has the initials "C.V.J.T." on his glove, a tribute to two friends that are paralyzed, Chance Veazey and Jonathan Taylor.

Yasiel Puig's customized outfielder's glove has the initials "DTB," which stands for "Dios te bendiga," or "God bless you" in English

Third baseman Justin Turner goes with the generic.

"What I like about Wilson," he said, "is that you can take it out of the bag and in a day or two take it into a game."

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers' Top 30 list still full of impact talent

MLB.com