Ryan Pepiot and Andre Jackson round out opening-day roster for Dodgers

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Dodgers pitcher Ryan Pepiot delivers against the Miami Marlins in August.
Dodgers pitcher Ryan Pepiot delivers against the Miami Marlins in August. Pepiot will be on the Dodgers’ opening-day roster.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Follow along for the latest news and analysis from Dodgers spring training at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix ahead of the 2023 MLB season.

Ryan Pepiot, Andre Jackson claim final spots on opening-day roster

Ryan Pepiot delivers a pitch during a game.
Ryan Pepiot was named to the Dodgers’ starting rotation Friday.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Six days before the start of the season, the Dodgers opening day roster already seems set.

Ryan Pepiot will be the Dodgers fifth starter, after the other candidate for the role, Michael Grove, was optioned on Friday. Andre Jackson, meanwhile, will round out the Dodgers bullpen as the long reliever, beating out other relief candidates such as Victor González, who was also optioned on Friday.

Manager Dave Roberts said picking Pepiot over Grove for the final rotation spot — which was opened after Tony Gonsolin sprained his ankle, an injury that will cost him at least the first couple weeks of the season — was “probably the toughest decision” the team made this camp.

“We just felt that Ryan outperformed Michael this spring,” Roberts said.

Indeed, Pepiot had better numbers in Cactus League play, posting a 3.29 ERA in five starts to Grove’s 5.40 mark.

Malachi Moore, who played at Compton Dominguez High and Compton College, is one of 10 umpires promoted to full-time MLB status for the 2023 season.

March 24, 2023

Pepiot also had the most MLB experience of any of the Dodgers young pitchers, after making seven starts (and nine total appearances) in the big leagues last year.

“He’s made huge strides,” Roberts said. “I think the delivery is a lot more consistent, and with that the throw is much more consistent. And there just seems to be more clarity. Things have slowed down for him.”

Roberts reiterated that Grove, who also made his MLB debut last year, will likely return to the majors at some point this season. Fellow prospects Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller could also factor into the Dodgers plans at some point in time.

Jackson, another minor-league starter with big league experience, had also impressed this spring but made more sense as the long reliever in the bullpen, where Roberts said he could provide as many as 75 pitches in an outing if needed.

Dodgers starting pitcher Andre Jackson, right, gives a high-five to catcher Hunter Feduccia.
Dodgers starting pitcher Andre Jackson, right, gives a high-five to catcher Hunter Feduccia during a workout session at Camelback Ranch on Feb. 16.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

“He cleaned a lot of things up,” Roberts said, “and is throwing the heck out of the baseball.”

With Friday’s news, the Dodgers opening day roster now looks like this:

Starting rotation — Julio Urías, Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, Ryan Pepiot

Bullpen — Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, Alex Vesia, Yency Almonte, Caleb Ferguson, Shelby Miller, Phil Bickford, Andre Jackson

Infield/catcher — Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Miguel Vargas, Miguel Rojas, Will Smith, Austin Barnes

Outfield/DH — Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, David Peralta, Trayce Thompson, James Outman, Jason Heyward, J.D. Martinez

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Tony Gonsolin (sprained ankle) throws off mound again

Tony Gonsolin will likely miss the first few weeks of the Dodgers season because of a sprained ankle.

However, the pitcher took a positive step in his recovery on Friday when he returned to throwing off a mound for the first time since suffering his injury almost three weeks ago.

Here is some video of his session:

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Dustin May set to pitch before Clayton Kershaw in Dodgers rotation

PHOENIX — Julio Urías’ opening day start wasn’t the only piece of rotation news to emerge from Dodgers camp on Friday.

According to manager Dave Roberts, Dustin May will start the team’s second game of the season while Clayton Kershaw will slide into the No. 3 spot, a move designed to break up the two left-handers — Urías and Kershaw — a day apart.

Noah Syndergaard will follow that trio in the fourth game of the season. Then either Ryan Pepiot or Michael Grove will round out the rotation in the fifth spot.

Roberts said the Dodgers have decided between those two, but aren’t ready to announce it publicly.

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Julio Urías earns his first opening day start for Dodgers

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers against the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the NLDS in October.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Major League Baseball asked its teams to wait until Friday to reveal their opening day starters, hoping to turn the annual announcements into a leaguewide event.

For the Dodgers, however, the choice had been evident for a while now.

Julio Urías will get the nod for the first time in his career — a fitting honor for a left-hander who has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the sport over the last several seasons.

“I think he’s earned this opportunity,” manager Dave Roberts said, with the pitching matchup for the team’s March 30 opener against the Diamondbacks finally officially set. “He’s checked a lot of boxes and this is one of the last for him; something that from his teammates to all of us, we’re excited for him to have this opportunity.”

Urías enters 2023 at both a high point and a crossroads of his burgeoning career.

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Daniel Hudson, Jimmy Nelson to start season on injured list

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Daniel Hudson throws to the plate during the ninth inning.
Daniel Hudson will start the 2023 season on the injured list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts officially confirmed on Thursday that relievers Daniel Hudson and Jimmy Nelson will begin the season on the injured list.

Hudson’s ramp up this spring has been slowed by soreness in his right knee (where he suffered a torn ACL last year) and left ankle (where he has battled tendinitis that developed during his rehab this offseason).

Nelson, meanwhile, needs more time to work on his delivery after missing the last year and a half because of Tommy John surgery.

“He’s healthy,” Roberts said of Nelson. “We’re just getting him back to where he needs to be to pitch for us.”

Without those two, the Dodgers will likely have Phil Bickford and another long reliever on their opening day team.

That latter spot has yet to be determined, Roberts said, though Andre Jackson might make the most sense as a minor-league starter with several seasons of MLB experience.

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Rookie James Outman makes opening day roster

Los Angeles Dodgers' James Outman before a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants.
A strong spring training helped James Outman make the Dodgers’ opening day roster.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

James Outman will make the Dodgers opening day roster, manager Dave Roberts announced Thursday.

Outman, 25, is one of the top prospects in the Dodgers farm system and has had a standout performance this spring.

Entering Thursday, the rookie was batting 11 for 41 in Cactus League games with two home runs, and had impressed in backfield action as well.

“He is one of the best 13 players in our organization,” Roberts said. “His talent and performance made it an easy decision.”

With Outman on the team — filling a roster spot that was left open in the wake of Gavin Lux’s season-ending knee injury — the Dodgers position player group is now set.

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Dodgers position player battle becoming clear after latest round of roster cuts

The Dodgers made another round of roster cuts on Wednesday night, bringing the race for the team’s final position player spot into focus with spring training winding down.

Infielder Yonny Hernández, outfielder Ryan Ward and catchers Patrick Mazeika and David Freitas were sent to minor-league camp on Wednesday, along with pitcher Justin Bruihl.

With those cuts, the Dodgers’ remaining list of candidates for their final position player roster spot — the one that was opened in the wake of Gavin Lux’s season-ending knee injury — is now down to outfielders James Outman, Steven Duggar and Bradley Zimmer, and infielder Luke Williams.

The Dodgers could always make an external addition before the start of the season, once other teams begin trimming their rosters at the end of camp, but it’s unlikely that they will make a major splash prior to opening day.

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Dodgers still undecided on last rotation spot between Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove

Ryan Pepiot made his final Cactus League start of the spring Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(Matt York / Associated Press)

PEORIA, Ariz. — The Dodgers are taking their time picking their last opening day rotation member.

With Tony Gonsolin still nursing a sprained ankle — the right-hander has yet to throw off a mound more than two weeks removed from the initial injury — it will either be Ryan Pepiot or Michael Grove serving as his early-season replacement.

With just a week remaining before opening day, however, manager Dave Roberts said the club has yet to make a final choice between the two.

“We’re still trying to sift through that,” Roberts said. “We haven’t made that decision.”

Pepiot pitched in Wednesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, giving up three runs in 4 2/3 innings to bring his spring ERA to 3.29. He struck out six batters while walking two.

Grove will make his final Cactus League start on Thursday. In his five outings so far, he has a 4.34 ERA.

Roberts said both young pitchers have shown improvement this spring from their debut seasons last year, and that there is little separating the two as camp draws to a close.

“They both have made exponential strides with their command. They have two different pitch mixes. The demeanor on the mound has been considerably better,” Roberts said. “So now, it’s not about what each guy can’t do, it’s about what we just feel we want at that particular moment.”

Whoever gets the nod could make multiple starts to begin the season, with Gonsolin likely to need “a few weeks” once the regular season begins to build his workload back up.

“Whoever it’s gonna be,” Roberts said, “you would expect to take down a few starts.”

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Julio Urías cherishes WBC experience ahead of likely opening day start with Dodgers

Mexico pitcher Julio Urías throws against Colombia during the first inning.
Julio Urías returned to Dodgers camp Wednesday after playing in the WBC.
(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Julio Urías will probably make his first career opening day start for the Dodgers when the season kicks off next week, and it still might not be the most meaningful outing of his month.

On Wednesday, after returning to Dodgers camp following a deep run in the World Baseball Classic with Team Mexico, Urías spoke glowingly of the international tournament, in which he represented his home country as a professional for the first time.

“Honestly, you just have to live it in order to be able to feel it,” Urías said in Spanish. “It was something I was really motivated to do. It was a blessing to get that deep in the tournament, but the most important thing was to represent the country and feel the energy in the clubhouse.”

“It’s a whole different experience,” Urías added. “It’s something that is hard to describe.”

Urías made two starts in the event, giving up seven earned runs in nine innings. More importantly, he served as the face of a Mexican team that made a surprise run to the semi-finals, eventually bowing out in a walk-off loss to Team Japan on Monday.

“I’ve been blessed with how my career has gone and I’m grateful for the support from my people,” Urías said. “But at the same time, I wanted to participate in this tournament because I wanted baseball in Mexico to continue to grow, and I feel like we did that.”

Asked how the WBC compared to his experience in the World Series — Urías got the last out of the Dodgers 2020 title — the pitcher struggled to put it into words.

“It’s something that is hard to describe, you just have to live it,” he said. “Obviously during the World Series I was able to throw the last pitch, but this was just different. There are no words to describe the feeling.”

And when it comes to his preparation for the regular season, Urías doesn’t believe the tournament would have much of an impact.

“It’s a different level of pressure, a different level of atmosphere,” he said. “But you just have to focus on yourself and how you want to execute. I know my next start I have some work to do here so I don’t think it’s going to affect me.”

Urías’ next outing will come in a Cactus League game Friday, almost assuredly lining him up to start the season-opener on March 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Manager Dave Roberts still hasn’t confirmed that decision — MLB will make a league-wide announcement of opening day starters on Friday — and Urías also deflected when asked what an opening day start would mean to him.

“My focus is on Friday,” he said with a smirk. “After Friday we can definitely talk.”

Opening day start or not, though, it has already been a memorable month for the 26-year-old native of Culiacan, Mexico.

“It’s just different when you wear your country’s jersey,” he said. “I just feel really happy with everything we accomplished.”

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Noah Syndergaard is ‘out of whack’ in rocky outing

Dodgers starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws against the San Diego Padres on March 6.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Noah Syndergaard wasn’t about to get too discouraged by the velocity readings on the Camelback Ranch scoreboard when the Dodgers right-hander was dealing with a blister on one of his pitching fingers and a soggy mound that made footing a bit treacherous.

But numbers don’t lie, and Syndergaard’s fastball wasn’t exactly electric on Tuesday, sitting between 90-92 mph and touching 94 mph during a 12-1 Cactus League split-squad loss to San Francisco in which Syndergaard gave up five earned runs and six hits in 4 ⅓ innings, struck out three and walked one.

“I knew from the get-go when I was warming up in the bullpen that when I tried to use my legs, I didn’t have any footing,” Syndergaard said. “The dirt would stick to the bottom of my cleats. It kind of felt like I was throwing on turf, so I just had to battle through it.

“All the other starts I’ve had this spring, I’ve felt pretty good. This one just kind of felt out of whack from the beginning but I was able to grind through it and get my pitch count up.”

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Gavin Stone among latest round of Dodgers spring roster cuts

The Dodgers made a few more trims to their spring training roster Tuesday, announcing that pitchers Gavin Stone, Adam Kolarek and Jake Reed have all been sent to minor-league camp.

Stone was having the most standout spring of the bunch, capped by an eight-strikeout gem on Sunday. While he’ll now begin the season in the minors, he’s likely to receive his first MLB call-up at some point this season.

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Clayton Kershaw likely lined up for Dodgers’ No. 2 rotation spot

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the Texas Rangers on March 16.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — A morning rain shower in Arizona let up just in time on Tuesday for Clayton Kershaw to make his final Cactus League start of the spring, with the left-hander giving up two runs in five innings against the Cleveland Guardians at Goodyear Ballpark.

Kershaw also went to the bullpen for more work after leaving the mound at the start of the sixth, and said afterward he feels ready to go for the start of the season.

“Physically, feel great,” Kershaw said. “Pitching, it’s never gonna be exactly how you want it. Obviously, there’s some things I want to get better at. But if it started today, I’d be good.”

With Tuesday’s outing out of the way, Kershaw is set to next pitch on Sunday in a Freeway Series game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday morning.

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