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OC Register: Julio Urías sticks to the plan in Dodgers’ exhibition rout of Angels

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LOS ANGELES — Speaking to a gaggle of reporters before the Dodgers’ final exhibition game Tuesday, Manager Dave Roberts outlined the plan for starting pitcher Julio Urías: four innings in the game, followed by another “potential” inning in the bullpen.

The Dodgers stuck to their plan.

Urías tossed four perfect innings against the Angels in his final spring tuneup. He threw only 42 pitches, struck out four batters, then threw some cool-down pitches when it was all over. The Dodgers trounced the Angels in the Freeway Series finale 9-2 before an announced crowd of 34,162.

The game was more a test of the Dodgers’ discipline than either side’s major-league talent.

Urías’ innings will apparently be much more limited in 2019 than his skill. The 22-year-old lefty threw only 22 innings last year between the minors and the majors. He was perhaps fortunate to reach the majors at all after undergoing surgery on the anterior capsule surgery of his left shoulder.

Not only did Urías need only 14 months to recover, he allowed only two runs in 10-1/3 major league innings to end the 2018 season. His innings will be guarded in 2019, and he is not in the Dodgers’ season-opening rotation by choice. Injuries to Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw left the Dodgers with few options.

So it is that Urías will debut Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. If Urías pitches as efficiently as he did Tuesday, Roberts will be faced with another tough choice: let the kid pitch or stick to the plan? The choice might be more difficult for the manager than the pitcher.

“In a regular season game and he’s throwing the baseball well, being efficient, there’s always that urge to get another one, get another one,” Roberts said. “But we have other good arms in the ’pen. We have to be mindful of the long view with Julio. At times it’s going to be a little bit difficult because when he’s out there he makes us all look good.”

“I respect the plan and you’ve just got to take all the positives,” Urías said through an interpreter. “I was happy the way the fastball was working and overall, just happy.”

Roberts reiterated that there is no hard cap on Urías’ innings this season, but that he will return to the bullpen at some point.

The Angels (15-16-4) didn’t put a runner on base until the fifth inning. By then, the Dodgers (14-15-3) led 7-0.

Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval was a late comer to the starting assignment, when Jaime Barría was optioned to the minors earlier in the day. Sandoval, who finished last season at Double-A after the Angels acquired him in the Martin Maldonado trade, was fed to the wolves: The 22-year-old Mission Viejo High product was tasked with facing the Dodgers’ projected Opening Day lineup.

Sandoval struck out Corey Seager and induced a double-play groundout from Justin Turner in the first inning. The second inning was much more eventful.

The Dodgers sent 11 men to the plate. Seven scored – three on a Cody Bellinger home run, two on a Joc Pederson double, one on a single by Turner and another on a wild pitch. All of the runs were charged to Sandoval, who recorded just one out in the inning before giving the ball to Jeremy Rhoades.

Hansel Robles, who struck out the only batter he faced (Russell Martin), was the only major league pitcher to appear in the game for the Angels.

The Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning against minor leaguer Adrian De Horta. Max Muncy doubled and scored on an A.J. Pollock single. Pollock scored on a double by Martin.

The Angels scored an unearned run in the fifth inning against Dylan Floro, the result of a fielding error by Muncy at first base. Matt Thaiss led off the seventh inning with a double against Dodgers pitcher Dustin May and came around to score on an RBI groundout. Thaiss (3 for 3, two doubles) accounted for half of the Angels’ hits.

Both teams have a day off Wednesday followed by Opening Day on Thursday. The Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Angels visit the Oakland A’s.

Staff writer Mirjam Swanson contributed to this report.

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