SAN FRANCISCO – The snooze alarm on Julio Urias’ season has finally gone off.
The Dodgers’ precocious left-hander will make his 2017 major-league debut Thursday at AT&T Park after he spent the first three-plus weeks of the season idling in extended spring training and then making three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The delayed debut essentially shaved four big-league starts off of Urias’ workload – if he stays healthy and in the rotation all season (something Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he expects). That should bring Urias in around 160 innings total this season (including the postseason), a reasonable jump from the career-high 127 2/3 he threw last year in the majors and minors.
“I think that was the plan they had all along,” Urias said through his interpreter Wednesday. “I spent a week in Arizona and later on I had a few starts in Oklahoma City. Like I’ve always said, I’m going to respect whatever decision they make and respect whatever plan they have and take advantage of it any way I can.”
The 20-year-old has admirably held his tongue about the Dodgers’ various decisions regarding his usage last year and again this.
“They shared the plan,” Urias said. “They didn’t tell me exactly when. But the communication with the team has always been open. That’s something I appreciate.”
Urias acknowledged that it wasn’t easy waiting out most of April before getting the call.
“It’s always hard,” he said. “You always come to spring training with the mentality to work to go out there to pitch. But I’ve always known it’s the plan they had. It’s what’s best for me. It’s what’s best for the team. I respect it and now I just have to go out there and do my job.
“You can say my season starts tomorrow. From here on out, it’s do my work and try to help the team win.”
With inconsistent (or worse) starts from three-fifths of the starting rotation, Roberts acknowledged “the vision of having Julio as part of our rotation and now moving forward having that consistency – that’s really exciting for us. You lose Julio, you lose Rich (Hill) … it’s been kind of a patchwork right now.”
“I think we did a good job of letting Julio know our expectations,” Roberts said. “To his credit, he bought in and now we can kind of look ahead.”
With a misty rain falling Wednesday afternoon, left-hander Rich Hill threw approximately 30 pitches to hitters without a bandage covering the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Hill said the finger “felt great – but my command wasn’t great.”
Roberts agreed with that and said Hill will need more work to get ready for a return to the majors.
“The most important factor is the finger came out of it OK,” Roberts said. “But for me, if you’re looking at being in a major-league game I don’t think the quality of the pitches was where it needs to be. That goes without saying and I know Rich understands that.”