Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias is improving physically and mentally after surgery

Julio Urias follows through on a pitch against the Miami Marlins on May 20. Urias injured his shoulder while pitching in triple A earlier this season.
(Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press Photo)

Julio Urias visited Chase Field to meet with Dodgers officials Wednesday. They planned to delineate how he would proceed in his recovery from surgery for the torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

Tuesday marked six weeks since Urias’ season-ending surgery, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. In the days surrounding the operation, the Dodgers did not make Urias available to speak to reporters. Others spoke for him, including Scott Boras, his agent, and Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. Friedman cited his frustration and despair upon learning what awaited the top pitching prospect.

Speaking for the first time since the surgery, Urias said he had trouble processing the reality that his career would be set back so significantly.

“I had a lot of emotions,” Urias said through interpreter Jesus Quinonez. “You feel sadness. You feel angry. Everything goes to your head. You think about your career, everything you’ve done to get to that point.


“I tried to get out of that stage as fast as I could. Now I feel very motivated and ready for everything.”

Manager Dave Roberts said he sensed from conversation that Urias had recently adjusted his perspective.

“He had clarity,” Roberts said. “And, in recent weeks, he hadn’t really had that.”

Urias will turn 21 on Saturday. After debuting at 19 a year ago and succeeding, the precocious left-hander walked more men than he struck out in an early-season stint with the Dodgers. Three weeks after he was sent down to triple-A Oklahoma City, he tore the capsule amid an eight-strikeout start.

Pain precipitated more than a week of inaction, which prompted several tests, and, eventually, the diagnosis, considered one of the most severe a pitcher can receive. When major leaguers have had the surgery Urias underwent, they have often been unable to reclaim their peak form.

“I’m not scared,” Urias said of that possibility. “I’m thinking positively, 100%. I’m thinking about coming back and thinking I may be even better if I put in the work. I’m not worried about being the same player, coming back the same way. I’m just being positive and getting my work in.”

Urias said he was encouraged by ElAttrache’s cheery post-operation report, which stated that “everything was better than expected.” Unlike most similar tears, Urias’ lacked scar tissue in the area because it had torn in an acute fashion. Typically, overuse is at fault.

“He obviously can’t guarantee anything,” Urias said of ElAttrache. “That depends on my rehab and how much work I put in, but after a month and a couple days, I feel really good.”


Friedman has expressed hope Urias could pitch in 2018. Urias was unsure when he could return.

“When God wants me to,” he said, “and when I’m ready.”

Urias said he had received an enormous quantity of encouraging messages from fellow ballplayers. He particularly prized the note he received from Washington reliever Oliver Perez, who like him hails from Culiacan, Mexico.

“I appreciate the advice from everyone,” Urias said. “But sometimes when your countryman reaches out, it helps send the message even clearer.”


Short hops

Clayton Kershaw’s first bullpen session since his July 23 back injury is scheduled for Friday at Dodger Stadium. … Roberts reiterated his expectation that outfielder Andre Ethier will soon begin a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He said Sept. 1 remains a realistic activation date for the 35-year-old outfielder, who has batted only 26 times since 2015. Ethier, a Phoenix native, took batting practice at Chase Field on Wednesday.


Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura