Padilla brings swine flu, high ERA to L.A.

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padilla_090819.jpgIn a move that is destined to turn Chavez Ravine into a giant yawn contest, the Dodgers have signed former Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla to a minor league contract. Talk about a low-risk, low-reward move.

Padilla will pitch at Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday before joining the big league team, and is expected to start against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 27.

The good news on this signing is the Dodgers won’t have to pay Padilla much more than their ball boys, as the Rangers will eat the $8 million he’s owed after dumping him a couple days ago. The bad news is that he isn’t much better than the ball boys, even when you take into account his recent bout with swine flu.

(Speaking of swine flu, apparently the virus has hit a Japanese baseball team pretty hard. The team’s name? The Nippon Ham Fighters. Not kidding.)

Padilla turns 32 in late September, and at this point in his career, what you see is what you get. He’s going to walk some guys. He’s going to hit some guys (eighth all-time among active pitchers). And he’s going to give up some home runs (although, only 12 so far this season).His line this season (8-6, 4.92), is about on target with his career line (94-85, 4.36).

Is Padilla really any better than Charlie Haeger, Eric Stults or James McDonald? Seems doubtful, but with Hiroki Kuroda heading to the disabled list, I guess it doesn’t hurt to stock up on warm bodies.

Throw enough junk at the wall, something might stick.

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If you Twitter, and have been diagnosed as swine-flu free, you can follow me at @Bharks.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.