Column: Dodgers may face tough decision regarding Julio Urias

Julio Urias
Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias follows through during the first inning of the team’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 12 at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Only Julio Urias and his girlfriend really know what happened Monday night in a Beverly Center parking lot.

And maybe a surveillance video.

There is no conviction, no admission of guilt, only an accusation that was denied by Urias and his alleged victim.

Until the case is resolved, the security footage will serve as the final word.


More than any testimony, more than any punishment, how Urias is perceived will be determined by the images on the recording in question.

Such videos have a tendency of coming into public view these days. Perhaps that will be the case here.

At the moment, all that is certain is this: Urias was arrested Monday night on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery. He was released on $20,000 bond. He was removed from the Dodgers’ active roster and placed on administrative leave, during which Major League Baseball will investigate his case in accordance with its domestic violence policy.

The situation is crushing, regardless of what Urias did or didn’t do.


If witnesses accurately portrayed what happened to police, Urias shoved a young woman to the ground. Under this scenario, Urias isn’t one of baseball’s most likeable players and his pleasant and unaffected demeanor will have been exposed as a mask concealing something sickening inside of him.

On the other hand, if Urias and his girlfriend were truthful, if the incident was nothing more than a verbal altercation, that doesn’t speak well of their fellow patrons at the Beverly Center, who have inadvertently branded the 22-year-old with a scarlet letter that will stay on him for the foreseeable future.

Either way, it’s nauseating. Even if the truth is revealed to be something in between, it’s disappointing, if not downright disgusting.

Urias had a chance of becoming a once-in-a-generation star for the Dodgers and not only because he could unleash a 98-mph fastball with minimal effort. He is a Mexican pitcher on a team with a heavily Mexican and Mexican American fan base. Like Fernando Valenzuela and Adrian Gonzalez before him, Urias had a chance to be a source of pride and joy; he has instead become a symbol of humanity’s worst impulses. If convicted, he could be deported.

The Dodgers limited their comments to a carefully crafted statement.

“We learned about the alleged incident this morning and are in the process of gathering information,” the team said. “As a result, we have no comment at this time regarding the incident. However, the very allegation of domestic violence must be taken seriously and addressed promptly, and we will cooperate fully with the authorities and Major League Baseball to ensure that that happens in this case.”

The stance was a reminder that the decision to place Urias on administrative leave was made by MLB, not the Dodgers.

“Right now, we’re going to kind of stand pat, let the process run its course,” manager Dave Roberts said.


But the Dodgers could have to make a significant call of their own in the coming weeks, depending on what the surveillance video shows and what MLB’s investigation uncovers.

In December 2015, the Dodgers backed out of a trade with the Cincinnati Reds that involved Aroldis Chapman over allegations of domestic violence against the Cuban-born closer.

That was easy.

Sign up for our daily sports newsletter »

Last summer, the Blue Jays made suspended closer Roberto Osuna available and the Dodgers made no attempt to deal for him.

That was a no-brainer.

Now, accusations of domestic violence have moved closer to home, on to their roster, in fact, and the Dodgers could be forced to decide whether they really stand for the values they championed by not acquiring the likes of Chapman and Osuna.

Refusing to trade for a troubled player is one thing; it’s another to part ways with one who is already on your roster, especially one as young, talented, cost-effective and popular as Urias.


If the surveillance video confirms their worst fears, what the Dodgers do with Urias will serve as their statement on how they want to represent Los Angeles.

Their actions will convey whether they want to once again become agents of social change or continue being like any other sports franchise.

Unless the evidence requires nothing like that from them.

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez

Do you bleed blue?

Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.