Urías shrugs off shaky outing in final Spring Training start

April 5th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Julio Urías shrugged it off postgame. Just as casually as he smoothed the dirt on the mound after yet another ball flew into the outfield. Just as casually as he slapped a hand into his glove, walking off the mound.

Despite his relaxed demeanor, a faint warning alarm blared throughout the Dodger lefty’s start in an 10-4 loss on Monday night's Freeway Series game: His fastball, once sizzling with life, sputtered a bit against a hungry Angels lineup.

“It’s all good,” Urías said postgame through a translator. “Physically and mentally strong, and just getting ready for the season.”

In Urías’ final outing of the spring, the penultimate Freeway Series game, the star hurler worked his way through two innings largely without incident. But in the third inning, the Angels’ bats teed off as Urías let six straight runners reach base.

His final line: two-plus innings pitched, six hits allowed, three walks, one strikeout.

In the third inning, Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh -- who’d hit all of two home runs last season in 236 at-bats -- stepped to the dish against the Dodgers pitcher. On his first offering, Urías reached back for a 91.7 mph four-seamer, which Marsh promptly took deep into the right-field bleachers for a solo home run. Later in the inning, Anthony Rendon and Jo Adell each notched RBI singles off similar fastball velocities.

“Obviously, results didn’t show tonight … but tinker and fix some things along the way, and then just be ready for that [first] start,” Urías said.

Urías did reach back for a couple 93 mph offerings on Monday. But generally, his fastball ranged between the 91-92 mph mark -- a far cry from the average four-seam mark of 94.2 mph last season that buoyed a seventh-place Cy Young Award finish.

Similar murmurings of diminished velocity started to bubble toward the end of last season, across which the 25-year-old had thrown a career high 185 2/3 innings. But Urías said he felt strong and healthy and just needed to go back to watch film of “misfires” from his outing.

After notching a 2.96 ERA last season and leading the MLB in wins with 20, Urías said he had high hopes again for his performance in 2022.

“Obviously, winning 20 games is very difficult and very tough, but those are the goals that we’re going to set for ourselves,” Urías said. “First and foremost, I just want to be healthy.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts attributed Urías’ diminished velocity to the lack of intensity in Spring Training.

“There’s going to be more adrenaline, I would expect, once the regular season comes,” Roberts said. “I think you’ll see more of the 92, 93, 94.”

Roberts said a fivesome of Walker Buehler, Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney was set to open the season in the rotation, but that he didn’t know the specific order they’d take turns. Urías said he’d find out the date of his first regular-season start Tuesday or Thursday.

Freddie freewheeling

In a bright spot from a loss that dropped the Dodgers to just 4-9 in Spring Training play, shiny new signee Freddie Freeman electrified the home crowd Monday night in his first at-bat at Dodger Stadium. On an 0-1 count against Angels starter José Suarez, the $162 million man drove a fastball to left field, pulling into third with a triple after outfielder Adell misread the line drive’s angle.

When he stepped to the plate again in the third inning, faint smatterings of “Fred-die!” broke out among the Dodgers fans. Perhaps it’ll soon become the first baseman’s new home rallying cry.

Welcome back, Edwin

Edwin Ríos was enjoying a pleasant morning cup of coffee with his wife, preparing for some breakfast, when Roberts called with good news: He’d made the team’s Opening Day roster.

An elated Ríos skipped the breakfast. He headed straight to the field.

After a growing belief the infielder could stick on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, the team’s crop of position players was set when Roberts announced Monday that Ríos had officially made the team.

After an abysmal 4-for-51 start to 2021 that ended in shoulder surgery, Ríos has swung the bat well in Spring Training, tallying a .304 average and 1.187 OPS in 23 at-bats.

“I’m just excited and happy for a redemption year,” Ríos said.