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Dodgers' Julio Urias will open season at extended spring training

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers made it official Tuesday, deciding that limited innings from Julio Urias will be best used toward the end of the season rather than the beginning.

In a move that had been anticipated, the Dodgers will keep the 20-year-old Urias at extended spring training when the season opens next week, manager Dave Roberts told reporters in Arizona.

The Dodgers are not saying how long Urias will be kept in wait mode, but the estimate on when the left-hander could join the Dodgers' rotation is some point in May.

Talent is not the issue. Urias proved last season that he is plenty talented to pitch at the major league level, going 5-2 with the Dodgers, including a 3.39 ERA. He had a 2.37 ERA over his last 16 appearances (69 1/3 innings). Instead, the Dodgers are intent on keeping a close watch on his innings count.

The Dodgers want the young pitcher to increase his innings totals incrementally. Last season he threw 82 2/3 innings at the major league level (5 2/3 of which were in the postseason) and 122 total including his work in the minor leagues.

In 2015, Urias threw 80 1/3 innings at four separate minor league levels.

The Dodgers are not saying what Urias' innings range will be for this season, but it is possible the 150-inning area could be a target. Assuming an average of six innings per start, Urias still could make 25 starts for the Dodgers if he is held to 150 innings.

Although the Dodgers never said the plan was for Urias to be left at extended spring training when the team reported to camp, the move had been widely assumed. He did start the spring as a regular member of the rotation, before his usage had been reduced as of late.

Asked about a limited schedule this year following his second Cactus League outing of the spring, Urias said he was fine with whatever plan the team had in store for him.

"You leave it up to the team, really,"Urias said through a team interpreter. "If that is what happens, you just have to go with it and respect whatever decision they make. My mind is in preparation and I will continue to work, work, work."