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Roberts says Maeda aims to increase strength, stamina

Dodgers manager updates status of team on Day 2 of Meetings
MLB.com @kengurnick

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- While Yasiel Puig attempts to trim some bulk from his body, teammate Kenta Maeda is trying to add some.

At the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Maeda is implementing an offseason conditioning program more suited to MLB than to the Nippon Professional League in Japan, where he pitched for eight years before coming to the Dodgers a year ago.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- While Yasiel Puig attempts to trim some bulk from his body, teammate Kenta Maeda is trying to add some.

At the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Maeda is implementing an offseason conditioning program more suited to MLB than to the Nippon Professional League in Japan, where he pitched for eight years before coming to the Dodgers a year ago.

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"That's one of the things this winter, we talked to Kenta, and he had an outstanding first year," said Roberts. "But it was more about understanding the toll that it took on him and his body, and to build some mass and to put on some weight to be able to handle the workload.

"So as he was open to the different -- to giving them extra days in between certain starts, the extra time. I'd like to think that we can kind of do a little bit less going forward, as he's already kind of made that jump into Major League Baseball."

In his first season, Maeda went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.139 WHIP in 32 starts and 175 2/3 innings, but 15 of his starts came with extra rest. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he would take a repeat of that, but both the club and Maeda are looking for more.

"I know he left L.A. with the mindset to get stronger, with the mindset to put 200 innings on his body," said Friedman. "It will take getting into the season some to see how it plays out to know. But if we can take another step forward, that's great.

"He had not done much weight training in Japan. After he signed he spent time with [strength and conditioning coach] Brandon McDaniel and came up with a routine. He was tremendous following it. He hadn't had as much experience with it, and I anticipate next year will be a little bit more. How it manifests itself, I don't know, but there's much more upside than downside."

Roberts and Friedman said they didn't know if Maeda was planning to compete for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

Video: Roberts on Puig getting ready for the 2017 season

Roberts also confirmed that the club will back up starting catcher Yasmani Grandal with Austin Barnes after trading Carlos Ruiz to Seattle.

"It's his time," Roberts said of Barnes. "He's very athletic. There's his bat-to-ball skills, pitch recognition, the pitch-framing ability, the athleticism. There's a lot to like in Austin Barnes."

Roberts said he considers young pitchers Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Ross Stripling Major League pitchers and no longer prospects.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 6 a.m. PT.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Dodgers