Turner almost ready for game action

Dodgers pitchers Montas, Dirks also progressing

March 5th, 2016

PHOENIX -- Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is inching closer to game action, while right-handed pitchers Frankie Montas and Caleb Dirks have progressed sufficiently from injuries to resume throwing.

Turner said on Friday that he hoped to make his Cactus League debut earlier next week. On Saturday manager Dave Roberts wouldn't give a date, but said he plans to ease Turner into action, first as a designated hitter before having him play defense.

Turner is being brought back methodically after undergoing tricky microfracture surgery on his left knee after the 2015 season.

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Roberts also said Hyun-Jin Ryu still isn't ready to resume throwing off a mound, but insisted that the training staff had built in a "back-off period" for Ryu's recovery from shoulder surgery and this is not considered a setback.

Nonetheless, Ryu had initially expressed hope that he would be ready for the start of the regular season. Now the Dodgers don't see Ryu ready to return until May at the earliest, while they scramble to find a replacement in the rotation for Brett Anderson, who is out for three to five months following back surgery.

Montas, the centerpiece for the Dodgers in a December three-team trade, is expected to miss two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery Feb. 12.

Montas, 23 this month, was obtained from the White Sox with infielder Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson in the three-team Todd Frazier trade. The Dodgers sent Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon to the Reds in the deal.

MLB.com ranks Montas the No. 4 prospect in the Dodgers organization.

Montas was likely to open the 2016 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City because of the Dodgers' pitching depth, but had a brief callup by the White Sox last year, when he went 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in seven appearances, two of them starts.

Montas, who has triple-digit velocity at times, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox and was traded in 2013 in the Jake Peavy deal. He had surgery on both knees in 2014.

Dirks, a 22-year-old non-roster invitee, has been sidelined with a bad back since the start of camp. He was acquired from Atlanta last summer with Jordan Paroubeck for an international-signing slot. He allowed only three earned runs in 23 1/3 innings after the trade, splitting time between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa.