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Buehler fans 5 Cubs in 'electric' Cactus debut

'Everything came out as a strike,' Roberts says of Dodgers' top prospect
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Despite being "slow played" this spring to ration his arm, the wraps came off Walker Buehler Saturday night for his first Cactus League appearance this spring, and he was dazzling.

Rewarding fans who endured drizzles and stayed until the end of a 6-5 Dodgers walk-off win over a Cubs split squad, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect struck out five of the six batters he faced in two scoreless innings, hit 98 mph on the radar gun and recorded his final out on a changeup.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Despite being "slow played" this spring to ration his arm, the wraps came off Walker Buehler Saturday night for his first Cactus League appearance this spring, and he was dazzling.

Rewarding fans who endured drizzles and stayed until the end of a 6-5 Dodgers walk-off win over a Cubs split squad, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect struck out five of the six batters he faced in two scoreless innings, hit 98 mph on the radar gun and recorded his final out on a changeup.

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Buehler's spring got off to a late start because of a minor back injury sustained in the offseason. His only previous outing was one inning in a "B" game on Monday (when he struck out the side), as management hopes to preserve him to start in the big leagues later in the year without a huge jump from his innings total from last season (98).

Buehler is not expected to make the Opening Day roster, as the starting rotation is full, although continued dominance will make that tempting. He said he now expects to ramp up activity by pitching every five days.

Buehler's only real challenge was when his entry into the game was delayed by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who objected to Buehler's gray glove. He was allowed to use it, but he won't during the season.

"His mix was good," said manager Dave Roberts. "Everything came out as a strike, the stuff was electric."

Buehler was upbeat after the outing, especially with the changeup, which he said is the last pitch to come around following his 2015 Tommy John surgery. He said the two changeups he threw in this game matched his total amount last year.

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"A lot of it is subconscious. I don't think you actively do it," he said. "Last year, a lot of times the first one I'd throw would be fine and the rest would be terrible. I'm finally getting over that hurdle. That's a pitch you really have to get out over, and the full extension of that pitch can be in the back of your mind a little daunting."

Overall, results were mixed for Dodgers pitchers in the game. Starter Rich Hill cruised again with four strikeouts in four innings, allowing just one hit. But none of three relievers vying for bullpen spots had clean outings.

J.T. Chargois was the best of the trio, allowing a hit in one scoreless inning. Yimi Garcia allowed a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning, while Pedro Baez had the toughest time and was charged with four runs in two-thirds of an inning after retiring the first two batters he faced.

Offensively, Enrique Hernandez continued his magic against the Cubs with a three-run game-tying homer in the seventh inning. Chris Taylor, Andrew Toles and Yasiel Puig either scored a run or drove one in.

Video: CHC@LAD: Hernandez crushes a three-run homer to right

Evacuation
The club made mass cuts after Saturday night's game. Players who were optioned to the Minors included Brock Stewart, Tim Locastro, Henry Owens and Dennis Santana. Reassigned to Minor League camp were these non-roster players: C Keibert Ruiz, C Shawn Zarraga, INF Matt Beaty, INF Drew Jackson, INF Edwin Rios, OF Yusniel Diaz, OF DJ Peters, OF Henry Ramos, OF Travis Taijeron, RHP Zach Neal, RHP Yaisel Sierra, RHP Joe Broussard, RHP Daniel Corcino, RHP CC Lee, LHP Brian Moran and RHP Brian Schlitter.

Stewart wasn't expected to make the Opening Day roster, but he wasn't expected to be in the first round of cuts, either. He allowed three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring.

Coaching update
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will be away from the club for five days for personal reasons. In his absence, bullpen coach Mark Prior will serve as pitching coach and Triple-A pitching coach Bill Simas will serve as bullpen coach.

Camp battle
Among the outfielders, Toles, who served as DH on Saturday, was 1-for-3 with an RBI double and run scored; Joc Pederson started in left field and went 1-for-3; Trayce Thompson came off the bench to go 1-for-2; and Alex Verdugo came off the bench and was 0-for-1.

Injury update
Shortstop Corey Seager will play defense in either a "B" game against the White Sox or a Minor League game on Monday. It will be the first game test in the field of Seager's right elbow, which he rehabbed over the offseason instead of repairing with surgery.

Up next: Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers on Sunday against German Marquez and the Rockies at Salt River Field. Justin Turner, Matt Kemp and Logan Forsythe will likely return to the lineup. The game will be available on MLB.TV.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler