Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Julio Urias will open Dodgers’ second half, Clayton Kershaw’s return uncertain

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LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers’ starting rotation has been unsettled and in flux for most of the first half. Why should the All-Star break change that?

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Julio Urias will start the team’s first game of the second half Friday at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Everything else, Roberts said, is still under discussion.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will be eligible to come off the injured list for the series in New York, but Roberts was noncommittal about whether Kershaw will be ready to pitch then.

“I think every day has been better,” Roberts said of Kershaw, who has not pitched since June 27 in Colorado due to a sore shoulder. “From what I saw (in Kershaw’s flat-ground throwing session), it looks good. And he’ll just take his break. And we’ll see what we do from there.”

Roberts said Kershaw has thrown only a handful of pitches off a mound this week. He would likely have to throw at least one bullpen session to test his shoulder and prepare for a return to the rotation. But Roberts said he doesn’t think Kershaw would need to throw to hitters – whether in a live batting practice session or on a rehab assignment – before coming off the IL.

Meanwhile, rookie right-handers Emmet Sheehan and Bobby Miller threw live batting practice to hitters briefly Saturday afternoon.

The Dodgers used an opener, left-hander Alex Vesia, for right-hander Michael Grove on Saturday “to give Shohei (Ohtani) different looks … that’s probably the impetus, the driver,” Roberts said.

TAYLOR TIME

Chris Taylor will be ready to rejoin the Dodgers when they open the second half in New York, Roberts said.

The utility player was assigned to the Dodgers’ team in the Arizona Complex League and began a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment Friday. Taylor played five innings in left field and went 1 for 2 with a single, a strikeout and a walk.

Roberts said Taylor will get additional at-bats in simulated-game settings arranged at Camelback Ranch but won’t need to continue his rehab assignment before rejoining the Dodgers.

“The hope is that he’ll be back with us when we start this road trip,” Roberts said. “I don’t think he needs to play more. I think that he’ll get some at-bats, some simulated things we’ll kind of put together. But as far as games, I don’t think he needs it.”

Taylor has been sidelined since June 16 with a knee injury, though he made pinch-hit appearances on June 20 and 21.

MOOKIE MAGIC

Over the 10 games before Saturday, Mookie Betts had reached base in 28 of 47 plate appearances – 12 walks, two singles, eight doubles and six home runs – while driving in 14 runs and scoring 13.

According to OptaStats, Betts is just the seventh player since 1920 to have a dozen extra-base hits, a dozen walks, a dozen runs scored and a dozen RBI in a 10-game span. The others were Babe Ruth in 1921, Rogers Hornsby in 1928, Mel Ott in 1929, Lou Gehrig in 1935, Vic Wertz in 1950 and Ted Williams in 1950 and 1951.

Betts was the runner-up for the National League MVP in his first season with the Dodgers, the abbreviated 2020 season. But Roberts said Betts “is as comfortable as he’s been in a Dodger uniform” and is playing even better now than he did in 2020.

“I think so. Yeah,” Roberts said. “You know, 2020 was a sprint. Everything was new to him. I think this is the true authentic version of Mookie. And so I think for me, yeah, this is probably the best version I’ve seen.”

UP NEXT

The Dodgers are off for the All-Star break.

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