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Julio Urias rejoins Dodgers, says he cooperated with MLB probe

Julio Urias rejoins Dodgers, says he cooperated with MLB probe
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias follows through during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 12 at Dodger Stadium. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias was reinstated by Major League Baseball and rejoined the club Tuesday, a week and a day after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery in Los Angeles. It is the first time MLB reinstated a player on seven-day paid administrative leave without extending the leave or issuing a suspension since the league implemented its domestic violence policy in 2015.

Urias was arrested May 13 after witnesses accused him of shoving his girlfriend in the parking lot of the Beverly Center. MLB and the Los Angeles Police Department opened separate investigations the next day. Urias and his girlfriend maintained the incident was nothing more than a verbal altercation, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The commissioner’s office couldn’t establish enough evidence to extend the leave with consent from the Major League Baseball Players Assn., which could have filed a grievance on Urias’ behalf had it deemed the evidence insufficient.

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A surveillance video exists, but MLB was unable to obtain the footage, according to a Beverly Center spokesperson and people familiar with the MLB probe.

“As a matter of policy, we do not release surveillance footage to any party other than law enforcement when it is formally requested in writing as part of an investigation, or when we receive a subpoena through the court system,” said Mary Mainville, spokesperson for the Beverly Center, in an email. “We did inform MLB of this policy when they contacted us directly after the May 13 incident. To date, law enforcement has not requested the footage, nor have we received a subpoena from MLB. We are fully prepared to comply with releasing the footage in accordance with our policy.”

Law enforcement might not have requested the footage, but a person with knowledge of the situation said the Beverly Center voluntarily provided authorities with the video and it has been viewed by prosecutors in the L.A. City Attorney’s office.

Urias, 22, declined to comment on his arrest or on the subsequent circumstances beyond reiterating that he has cooperated with MLB and will continue to do so. MLB’s investigation remains open.

“We’re in contact with the major leagues and I’m open 100% with them,” Urias said in Spanish. “They’re in charge of everything. Now that stays outside. Leaving the stadium you can think about that. But now I’m in a baseball stadium and I care about doing my job and helping this team. This team is ready to win, to get to another World Series and win a championship.”

Asked whether he believes his conduct warranted an arrest and the subsequent leave, Urias wouldn’t offer an opinion.

“I don’t want to think about that right now,” Urias said. “Like I said, I’m cooperating 100% with the entire case and right now I’m focused on baseball and now what interests me is going out on the field and give my best like I’ve always done.”

The commissioner’s office made the decision to reinstate Urias in coordination with the players’ union. Per the collective bargaining agreement, the Dodgers were mandated to activate Urias upon his reinstatement. They could not option him to the minors. The team optioned outfielder Kyle Garlick to triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Urias on the roster.

“It’s something that MLB took control of; they run an extremely thorough process,” Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president of baseball operations, said. “And after going through it, they made the decision to reinstate. It’s tough for us to elaborate much right now. But one thing we do know is that it is not standard for them to reinstate after just the seven days. So that says something to us. . . Hopefully, we’ll know more in the next couple weeks, but it’s something that’s tough for us to elaborate much on right now.”

Urias was the fourth player placed on administrative leave since MLB’s domestic violence policy was implemented in 2015. One, Jose Reyes, was put on leave during spring training. He was ultimately suspended for the first 52 games of the 2016 regular season.

Roberto Osuna and Addison Russell were placed on leave during the regular season. Osuna, then a reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays, had his leave extended multiple times before he was issued a 75-game suspension last June. Russell, a shortstop with the Chicago Cubs, was levied a 40-game ban last October after his leave was extended once.

Urias said he spent last week in Los Angeles. He traveled to Florida on Tuesday and arrived at Tropicana Field a few hours before the Dodgers played the Tampa Bay Rays. He spoke with Friedman and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts before addressing the team for about five minutes in the visitors clubhouse.

Roberts said Urias, who has a 3.18 ERA in 28 1/3 innings this season, recently threw a bullpen session and was expected to throw another one Tuesday or Wednesday. Roberts added he doesn’t expect Urias to pitch in the Dodgers’ two-game series against the Rays, but expects him “to be a big factor” against the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend.

“I’m happy to be here,” Urias said. “I’m grateful to the entire fan base, the entire team, my family, God, for putting me back in this sport, which is what I like to do, what I love to do. And I’m happy and now I have to do my job.”

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