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Dodgers SS Corey Seager takes big step in recovery

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Corey Seager’s latest step forward in his recovery actually involved a lot of standing around.
Seager played shortstop for three innings in a minor-league camp game. It was his first defensive action in a game since May, before Tommy John and hip surgeries.
“It was nice to move around. It was. It’s been a long time,” Seager said. “It was just nice to get on the field again.
“You have to try and find the timing of pre-pitch and stuff like that. But for the most part, it was a lot smoother than I expected.”
Seager had just one ball hit to him in the three innings, handling an infield single. He didn’t have a chance to throw the runner out but made the on-the-run throw to first base anyway.
“Didn’t hesitate. Just kind of did it,” Seager said. “No (chance to get the out), but I wanted to finish it. Just to say I did it. Kind of check that one off the list.”
There are no more items on that list, only incremental increases as he gets closer to returning to full game action.
“I just gotta play,” he said. “I think that’s about it. It’s just building up innings at this point.”
Going into Thursday’s games, Alex Verdugo was batting .280 (7 for 25) in Cactus League games – well short of the .450 he joked he might need to hit this spring in order to make the Dodgers’ season-opening roster.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has seen enough to say Verdugo will likely have that roster spot when the season starts in two weeks.
“Right now as it stands, it looks that way,” Roberts said. “But nothing is set. He’s still got to go out there and play.”
How much Verdugo will actually play if he does make the roster is cloudy. The Dodgers plan to play Cody Bellinger in right field and A.J. Pollock in center field on a nearly daily basis. Joc Pederson provides a left-handed bat in left field.
“I think the way we use our roster … there’s going to be opportunities,” Roberts said. “His versatility in the outfield, the left-handed bat, the way he can conduct an at-bat, the bat-to-ball skill plays for me in a lot of different ways.”
Left-hander Julio Urias is scheduled to start Friday night’s exhibition game and likely won’t pitch past the third inning as he did in his last start. The Dodgers are proceeding cautiously with Urias, building him up as a starting pitcher even though it seems unlikely he will open the season in that role.
“His innings are valuable and just how the roster shakes out will obviously make our decision,” Roberts said. “But to have him built up so we have an option, that’s what we plan on doing.”
The Dodgers also plan on limiting Urias’ innings this season. He pitched just 22 innings last season (including 6 1/3 in the postseason) after returning from major shoulder surgery in 2017. The Dodgers are wary of increasing that number by too much this season so it’s unlikely he will be available for more than 12 to 15 starts in total with some relief innings thrown in.
Roberts said he doesn’t know what Urias’ innings limit will be – “I don’t think it’s a hard number,” he said – but he acknowledged it makes sense to save those innings for later in the year.
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“Absolutely,” he said. “For sure, because when you finish your season, you want your best guys and you want Julio to be his strongest. Sure, that’s something we have in mind, no doubt.”
Urias has retired 17 of the 19 batters he has faced in six spring innings, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out six.
Clayton Kershaw threw another bullpen session Thursday morning. The 30-pitch workout included his full pitch mix and was done at nearly full intensity. Kershaw will likely throw to hitters in a live batting practice session in a few days. …
Max Muncy was scratched from the starting lineup for Thursday’s day game. Muncy came down with a sore right wrist/forearm after playing in Wednesday night’s game.

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