Seventeen-year-old Dodgers starter Julio Urias: ‘I was not nervous at all.’

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Julio Urias‘ first appearance in a major-league game Saturday was practically over before it started.

The 17-year-old lefty threw 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning against the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch. He struck out Will Venable swinging after falling behind 3-0 — all on fastballs — then got Chris Denorfia to ground out and struck out Yonder Alonso swinging on a slider. Three up, three down, 14 pitches, nine strikes.

Urias threw all three of his pitches for strikes. His fastball was clocked in the 93-96 mph range; his curveball in the 75-80 range and his changeup in the 75-79 range.

“I felt really happy. I was under control and not nervous at all,” Urias said through an interpreter.

With his father, Carlos, and an uncle in attendance, Urias garnered as much attention as anyone from the announced crowd of 13,232.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Urias said. “I’m happy to be with the Dodgers.”

Sam Demel was originally listed as the starting pitcher for the game. Urias was informed Saturday morning that the plans had changed. That only made him more comfortable; Urias started each of the 18 games he pitched last season for Low-A Great Lakes. By starting instead of reliving he had a full bullpen session before the game to get loose.

Dodgers scout Mike Brito, who signed Urias as a 16-year-old in August 2012, said the plan calls for Urias to begin the regular season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Based on the early returns, Urias might not need to be in the California League for long.

“I was not surprised,” Brito said. “He was very impressive.”

Brito, who also signed Fernando Valenzuela as a teenager, doesn’t think it will take long for Urias to be ready for the major leagues. Valenzuela debuted at 19 years old.

Urias said he’d like to be in the majors by the end of the season. The Dodgers have only suited up six 18-year-olds in their history and two 17-year-olds, none since Charlie Osgood in 1944. Urias turns 18 on August 12.

Daily Distractions: Predicting the Dodgers’ agenda for the Winter Meetings.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is the Dodgers’ first choice to play third base in 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Tuesday was such a busy day for free agent signings and trades around baseball, one website asked what many major league beat writers were probably thinking: “Who needs the Winter Meetings”?

For the Dodgers at least, next week could be a productive one. The Brian Wilson deal isn’t official yet, despite reports that he passed his physical. Assuming that contract has been signed by the time Dodgers officials land in Orlando, Florida, here’s what will top the to-do list:

1. A third baseman. General manager Ned Colletti is still hoping to bring back Juan Uribe, who is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. If the Dodgers are willing to go to a third year, there must still be a gap in dollar figures being exchanged by the two sides. Maybe they can overcome their differences in a week. Maybe not. If the Dodgers aren’t ready to commit to Hanley Ramirez as their third baseman for 2014, they might be best suited to resolve the position via trade if Uribe signs elsewhere. The free-agent crop at third base is really that thin.

2. A left-handed reliever. The Dodgers have a nice stable of right-handers among Kenley Jansen, Wilson, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and Jose Dominguez. Other than Paco Rodriguez, who petered out around the time of his 66th appearance in 2013, they don’t have a single established lefty reliever who will be healthy to start next season. (Scott Elbert underwent Tommy John surgery in June.) Re-signing J.P. Howell seems like the logical move, even if he is seeking a three-year contract. At age 30, Howell is a less risky investment than, say, Randy Choate, who was 37 when the Dodgers wouldn’t give him a three-year contract at this time last year. Javier Lopez raised the market value by signing a 3-year, $13 million deal to stay in San Francisco and Howell’s numbers are comparable. If the Dodgers can’t re-sign Howell, they may turn to a veteran such as Scott Downs on a shorter-term deal.

3. A bench. After losing Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto as free agents, the Dodgers lost arguably the two most proven quantities on their bench. Backup catcher Tim Federowicz, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke, outfielder Mike Baxter and whatever-he’s-playing-these-days Dee Gordon are all in line for bench jobs. The Dodgers would like to bring in another infielder as insurance if Alexander Guerrero isn’t ready to be the everyday second baseman. They could also shake up the equation by accepting trade offer for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Daily Distractions: MLB to test new replay system in Arizona Fall League games.

MLB replay

Glendale Desert Dogs players will be among the first to get a first-hand look at baseball’s proposed replay system for 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Baseball’s revamped replay system is about to take its first test-drive.

Select Arizona Fall League games from Nov. 5-9 will be the first to allow manager’s challenges of umpires’ calls. One of the games will feature the Glendale Desert Dogs, the Dodgers’ AFL affiliate. All of the games will be televised on MLB Network, so fan input on social media will likely be swift.

The proposed changes to baseball’s replay system were devised with significant input from former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz. A thorough review of the changes, including the guidelines for manager’s challenges, can be read here.

Four things to keep in mind:

1. Arizona Fall League umpires are usually Triple-A umpires, but the games will be observed by select MLB officials and umpires.

2. A spokesperson for the league said that the feedback from the replay experiences at the AFL games will be evaluated by MLB. If any changes are recommended to the proposed system, teams will know by the time their owners vote to implement it in 2014. That vote is expected to take place at the owner/GM meetings, Nov. 11-13.

3. Managers will make verbal indications of their intent to challenge a play. No flags need to be thrown in the process of challenging a call.

4. The camera angles available to AFL umpires won’t be the same as they would be during a major-league game.

A few bullet points for an Antigua and Barbudan Independence Day:
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Daily Distractions: The importance of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s seven innings Tuesday night.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu held the Giants to four hits and one run in seven innings on Tuesday. (Associated Press photo)

Our blogs were down yesterday. Sorry everyone. A dedicated team of top men in Denver patched things up in the middle of the night.

If this blog space were available during last night’s game, Hyun-Jin Ryu would have been the star.

Ryu will finish the season 14-7 with a 2.97 earned-run average, but he won’t win the National League Rookie of the Year award. Jose Fernandez has been a better pitcher and Yasiel Puig has made a bigger impact on his team than either Ryu or Fernandez.

But at some point last night I recalled filling out a brief survey back in spring training. A Korean reporter went around the press box at Camelback Ranch and asked each of the Dodgers beat writers to predict what Ryu’s won-loss record and earned-run average would be. I think I put down something quite average, say 11-11 and 3.70, simply because I couldn’t commit to the idea of Ryu being excellent or awful based on what little I knew at the time. Obviously, he’s been very good.

One recent exception had been Ryu’s ability to perform on long rest. Pitching on 11 days’ rest on Sept. 11 against the Diamondbacks, he was fairly awful, throwing 88 pitches and getting only three swings-and-misses. Ryu wound up allowing 10 hits and three runs in six innings (some double plays helped) but was the losing pitcher in a 13-6 drubbing.

Prior to that, Ryu last pitched on extra rest July 22 in Toronto. He labored through 5 ⅓ innings, throwing 102 pitches and again fooling few (seven swings-and-misses).

Why is this important?

If he doesn’t pitch the final game of the regular season Sept. 29, the next time Ryu starts will probably be Game 3 or 4 of the postseason, depending on how the Dodgers line up their rotation (and depending on if there is a Game 4; if the Dodgers are swept in the first round, we might not see Ryu until 2014). Even if he does pitch in turn Sept. 29, he’ll have six or seven days before his first playoff start.

If he doesn’t pitch Sept. 29 — and the Dodgers aren’t swept — Ryu might have as many as 12 games’ rest before his next start. That Ryu could take 11 days off and limit the Giants to one run over seven innings on Tuesday wasn’t just necessary to win the game, it was necessary to show he can survive a long layoff. That has to inspire a fair amount of confidence among Ryu’s teammates, manager and front office.

Remember too, this isn’t any pitcher we’re talking about — Ryu had never thrown a between-starts bullpen session before coming to America from South Korea late last year. He still hasn’t thrown off a mound between starts, except when tuning up following an injury. I believe that’s happened twice all season.

That said, don’t be surprised if Ryu pitches a simulated game or an extended bullpen session five days from now just to stay sharp. Don’t be surprised if he survives his first test in the playoffs, either.

Some bullet points for a Wednesday:
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Daily Distractions: Clayton Kershaw joins an exclusive group of Dodgers All-Stars.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to appear in three consecutive All-Star Games. (Associated Press)


Clayton Kershaw didn’t start the All-Star Game — Matt Harvey did — though he did join a different exclusive group Tuesday.

Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher ever to throw in three straight All-Star games. He fared better than the last Dodgers pitcher to do so; Eric Gagné gave up a solo home run in the 2002 game to Alfonso Soriano, allowed three runs in one inning the following year, and tossed a scoreless inning in his final All-Star appearance in 2004.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched two scoreless innings in the 1984 All-Star game, one scoreless inning in relief of Nolan Ryan the following year, then pitched three (!) scoreless innings in his final All-Star appearance in 1986.

Don Newcombe (1949-51) is the other. Like Gagné, his third and final All-Star appearance was the only one in which he didn’t allow a run.

Whit Wyatt, Ralph Branca and Sandy Koufax were all chosen to pitch in three straight All-Star Games or more, but for various reasons did not.

Of course, some were still focused on one Dodger who wasn’t in the game Tuesday.

The American League won the game, 3-0, and will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless inning, was named MVP and will be responsible for every baby born today in New York City named “Mariano,” “Mo” or, perhaps, “Sandman.”

Some bullet points for a Slovakian Independence Day:

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Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame — el Pabellón de la Fama del Caribe — on Sunday in Hermosillo, Mexico, at Universidad Sonora, Centro de Los Artes.

The current Dodgers broadcaster and retired pitcher was born about 200 miles south of Hermosillo, then began his career in Sonora playing for Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League at age 16. He also played for Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Águilas de Mexicali in the LMP and played in the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela’s induction will recognize his career in the LMP and in Major League Baseball.

The 52-year-old is scheduled to travel to Hermosillo Friday to partake in the opening ceremonies of Estadio Sonora, the brand-new stadium that will host the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 7 p.m. game between Yaquis de Obregón and Criollos de Caguas.

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Dodgers renew Collins, Lyons, Monday, Steiner, Valenzuela, Yiguez.

Eric Collins, Steve Lyons, Rick Monday, Charley Steiner, Fernando Valenzuela and Pepe Yiguez will return in 2013, the Dodgers announced Saturday. That means all eight of the team’s regular in-game commentators will return next season, as the team previously renewed Hall of Famers Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrn.

Collins and Lyons call all road games outside California and Arizona on Prime Ticket and KCAL (Channel 9). Monday and Steiner call all Dodger games on KLAC (570-AM). Valenzuela is the color commentator on all home games and select road games on KTNQ (1020-AM) and Yiguez calls all Dodger games for the club’s Spanish-language broadcast.

Here’s some more about the six broadcasters from the team’s official press release:
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