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On getaway day, rehabbing Urias left behind

Left-hander recovering from shoulder surgery, could throw off mound in month
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Scott Alexander has been there for Julio Urias this spring.

Urias, the organization's top pitching prospect a year ago, is recovering from left shoulder capsule release surgery. Alexander, acquired over the winter by the Dodgers from Kansas City, had the same procedure in 2011 and has been living reference material whenever Urias has a question about his recovery.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Scott Alexander has been there for Julio Urias this spring.

Urias, the organization's top pitching prospect a year ago, is recovering from left shoulder capsule release surgery. Alexander, acquired over the winter by the Dodgers from Kansas City, had the same procedure in 2011 and has been living reference material whenever Urias has a question about his recovery.

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"I talked to him when I was [throwing] at 120 feet," said Urias. "I asked how he felt then and he said, 'Fine, but maybe when you throw off a mound, you feel a little sore. No pain, just a little sore.' But he said, 'Don't worry about it. It's normal.' It's been really motivating hearing what he said and knowing he recovered."

So far, so good on Urias' recovery. Urias, who was throwing at a distance of 25 feet when Spring Training opened, is up to 135 feet now. He will remain there until his arm strength is sufficient for the next big hurdle -- throwing off a mound -- possibly in a month.

Pain? "Nothing," he said. Stiffness? "Nothing. I'm good."

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As teammates pack their gear on Saturday for the trip to Southern California, Urias will be left behind to continue his rehab at the organization's Camelback Ranch training facility. But instead of leaving Urias wistful about the unexpected detour in his career, he said watching the club head out for Opening Day doubles down his motivation to work for a return.

"It's understandable," he said when asked if he feels forgotten. "I want to get back to where I was and what I could do before. I'm still optimistic, of course, 100 percent."

The club remains just as optimistic that Urias will be back midway through 2018, roughly 12 months out from the surgery.

Urias said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the repair work, told him that the damage was minimal. He said he's confident he will be at least as good as before the surgery, when he was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in MLB coming into the season.

"I'm not scared," Urias said. "I'm thinking positively, 100 percent. I'm thinking about coming back, maybe even better if I put in the work. I'm not worried about being the same player."

Video: PIT@LAD: Urias no-hits the Pirates through six

The Dodgers experimented with Urias early last year, hoping to have him fresh late in the season, as they did the previous year when he went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA and started in the postseason. They throttled him back as last year's Spring Training neared an end, even though he pitched well enough to be in the season-opening rotation, and then sent him to the Minor Leagues.

But in a June 10 start for Oklahoma City, Urias felt a "tugging" on a specific pitch. He pitched two more innings, hitting 96 and 97 mph, but was stiff the next morning. An MRI revealed the damage.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Julio Urias