GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers reliever Tony Cingrani has been shut down with a recurrence of last year’s left shoulder soreness and won’t be ready by Opening Day, seemingly opening a bullpen spot for Julio Urias or Caleb Ferguson, or both.
“It just gives other guys opportunities,” said manager Dave Roberts. “The main thing with Julio, we want to continue to build him up. With where our starters are built up, namely Clayton [Kershaw] and Walker [Buehler, both returning from sore arms], the length that Julio gives us makes sense. And Caleb, to build him up, which we’re trying to do, to give us more length, makes him a better fit for our roster as well.”
Urias has been dominant starting in Spring Training, but the Dodgers had not planned on him being in the rotation to open the season, preferring to save his arm for the second half. He spent the last two seasons recovering from major shoulder surgery and will be on an undisclosed innings limit this year.
Scott Alexander will be the primary left-handed reliever, but Urias or Ferguson could follow a short start by Kershaw or Buehler, as could right-hander Ross Stripling.
Cingrani received medication and will not throw for two weeks while undergoing treatment. He most recently pitched one inning Sunday, but his velocity has been down this spring. Cingrani had not allowed a run in four Cactus League innings, with three strikeouts but also two walks.
“You could see he was favoring that shoulder,” said Roberts. “He’s as tough as they come, but it just wasn’t coming out right. He’s not going to pick up a baseball for a couple of weeks.”
Cingrani was limited to 30 games last year with shoulder ailments, going 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA. But when healthy, as he was after his acquisition in the second half of the 2017 season, Cingrani could be dominant. Last year, he struck out 36 with six walks in 22 2/3 innings but missed 10 days in May and was out from June 7-Sept. 17.
More injury updates
• Max Muncy was scratched from the lineup for Thursday's early game against the Reds with right wrist/forearm stiffness. He’s day to day.
Muncy played Wednesday night. He said he wasn’t sure how he suffered the injury but awoke on Thursday and couldn’t move the wrist. He said it loosened up and doctors ruled out any serious injury.
“I’m not worried at all,” said Muncy. “In fact, I feel real good about it now.”
• Corey Seager moved closer to an Opening Day return from elbow and hip operations. He played the field for three innings in a game for the first time this spring on the Minor League side Thursday morning.
“It’s nice to move around. It’s been a long time,” said Seager, who has gradually ramped up his workload and is expected to start the season on time. “It’s just nice to get back on the field again. It was weird. You try to find the timing, but for the most part it was a lot smoother than I expected.”
Seager had one play on a slow roller, throwing late to first.
“Didn’t hesitate. Didn’t think about it,” he said. “Just kind of did it. I wanted to finish it, to say I did it, to check that one off the list. I just got to play, that’s about it. Just build up innings.”
Dodgers, Reds play to tie
The Dodgers’ day game against the Reds and former teammate Yasiel Puig ended in a 3-3 tie. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched four innings and allowed two runs but struck out three without a walk. Former Reds farmhand Jeter Downs, acquired in the Puig trade, went 2-for-4. Puig went 1-for-3, and four other players who spent time in the Dodgers organization also played for the Reds -- Scott Schebler, Kyle Farmer, Jose Peraza and Rule 5 pick Connor Joe.
Dodgers rout Padres
In the night game in Peoria, Austin Barnes, Brad Miller and Cody Bellinger homered and Joc Pederson added a three-run double as the Dodgers crushed the Padres, 12-0. A.J. Pollock had two hits, a walk and scored three runs. Kenta Maeda allowed two hits in four innings with six strikeouts in his best start of the spring. Dustin May, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the organization, followed with three scoreless innings and three strikeouts.
Roberts values Verdugo
Roberts praised rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo, who is vying for a roster spot.
“I think he’s practicing the way he should, he’s playing the way he should, and I expect him to help us in various capacities this year and having a really good year,” said Roberts. “Everyone has a different path and different maturity growth and I think he’s growing up. I’m proud of the way he’s handling himself.”
As a left-handed hitter, Verdugo has been blocked from advancing past Triple-A by Pederson. Roberts said he expects Verdugo to be ready to handle a part-time role, if that’s how his season plays out.
“Right now, as it stands, it looks that way, but nothing is set,” Roberts said when asked if it appeared Verdugo would make the club. “He’s still got to go out and play. The way we use our roster, there will be opportunities. His versatility in the outfield, the left-handed bat, the way he conducts an at-bat, plays in a lot of different ways. The way he hangs in there against left-handers, he’s a very well-rounded ballplayer.”
More from the manager
• Roberts had no complaints with the rules changes announced on Thursday, even though next year’s rules regarding the three-batter minimum for relievers, elimination of trades after July 31 and the extended time on injured lists seem aimed at clubs like the Dodgers that push the envelope.
“It’ll be a challenge for pitchers to get right-handed and left-handed batters out,” Roberts said of the three-batter rule that figures to impact situational relievers. “Whatever the rules, obviously there’s some consensus, so we’ll abide and support. As they evolve, we evolve.”
• Roberts said he wouldn’t be surprised if young pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin helped the Dodgers on the big league level at some point this year.
Urias starts for the Dodgers at 6:05 p.m. PT on Friday against Tanner Roark and the Reds at Goodyear. Also expected to pitch for the Dodgers are Kevin Quackenbush and Yimi García.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.