Plan in place as Urias strives for peak fitness

Plan in place as Urias strives for peak fitness

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- While we wait for transactions, the theme for the Dodgers this week has been weight.

The club's Winter Meetings news has included offseason desires for outfielder Yasiel Puig to get leaner, starting pitcher Kenta Maeda to add muscle for endurance and now starter Julio Urias to trim down.

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"The player is taking the initiative to get in the best shape possible," said general manager Farhan Zaidi. "With his frame, there's always the potential to put on more pounds, and he's aware of it.

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"He hasn't really had a season where he's pitched all the way through. Last year, there were periods of being shut down. The year before that, he had eye surgery. This is the first time the hope and expectation is six months-plus. He's only 20, and his body is evolving. He's going through physical maturity, and the body's filling out. We're aware of it and he's aware of it, and he wants to pitch a full season."

Urias, the most touted young Dodgers pitcher since Clayton Kershaw, was 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 regular-season games in 2016, and he recorded a win and a loss in the postseason.

The 6-foot left-hander was listed in the Dodgers' 2016 media guide at 215 pounds and finished the season more than that, filling out significantly from the 160-pounder who signed with Los Angeles in 2012.

Urias' outstanding outing

Urias, who lives in Sinaloa, Mexico, during the offseason, visited California last week. He spent a week at agent Scott Boras' Sports Training Institute in Newport Beach, then three days with the Dodgers' medical and conditioning staff at Dodger Stadium.

"He's got his program and has gone back to Mexico and is coming back again in January to work out for the full month prior to Spring Training," Boras said.

Including his 5 2/3 innings in the postseason, Urias threw a career-high 127 2/3 innings this past season -- 82 2/3 for the Dodgers, 45 with Triple-A Oklahoma City. That was a one-year increase of more than 50 percent for one of the best young talents in the game, one that has been handled with kid gloves since he signed.

The Dodgers don't give an innings target for Urias' workload, but it will again be monitored.

"Andrew [Friedman, president of baseball operations] and I talked about his usage during the season, and Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Andrew have a good landscape for what's ahead," said Boras.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.