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Dodgers don't expect to rush Urias back to action

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- With or without Yu Darvish, the Dodgers' starting rotation in Spring Training will not include Julio Urias.

Urias is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that shelved him last year, when the Dodgers had hoped he would be their not-so-secret weapon down the stretch.

LOS ANGELES -- With or without Yu Darvish, the Dodgers' starting rotation in Spring Training will not include Julio Urias.

Urias is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that shelved him last year, when the Dodgers had hoped he would be their not-so-secret weapon down the stretch.

When Dr. Neal ElAttrache went to work on Urias' injury, the damage he found was less than feared. But shoulder capsule surgery is serious stuff, and shoulder surgery of any type is more problematic than elbow operations. The Dodgers were "upbeat and optimistic" when Hyun-Jin Ryu had shoulder labrum surgery in 2015, and one complication after another cost Ryu virtually two seasons.

The Korean left-hander is now healthy and the favorite for the fifth spot, while the club is cautiously optimistic that Urias will be back midway through 2018. General manager Farhan Zaidi, however, on Saturday tempered expectations when he said that Urias is not expected to even throw off a mound during Spring Training.

"He hasn't had any setbacks, but until he gets back on the mound and gets some game activity, those are some real hurdles to clear, and those are still far down the road," said Zaidi.

Urias has spent the offseason at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale training center in Arizona.

"I feel really healthy and I'm at a point when I will start throwing soon," said Urias. "There is a goal to come back, but I don't worry about that. I worry about day to day, feeling healthy with no pain each day, and hopefully I can reach that goal."

The unspecified "goal" is the end of June, which would be 12 months out from the surgery. Then the Dodgers will resume the task of building up Urias' arm strength for Major League duty. Entering the 2016 season, Urias was the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. But he's never thrown more than 122 innings in a season.

It's easy to forget that Urias is only 21, and he doesn't want Dodgers fans to forget him.

"We joked today that nobody recognizes me when I came in [to Saturday's FanFest]," he said. "Now they are starting to recognize me again, and I will take that motivation back to Phoenix."

With Urias rehabbing and Darvish unsigned, the Dodgers expect to report to Arizona with a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Ryu. Manager Dave Roberts said that top prospect Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart will be stretched out as starters.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Julio Urias