Dodgers surprisingly tab Padilla for Opening Day

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers will soon name Vicente Padilla their Opening Day starter, which is a surprise to say the least given that the rotation also includes young studs Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but before that he was released by the Rangers after posting a 4.92 ERA in 147 innings. Even with his nice late-season run in Los Angeles included Padilla hasn’t had an ERA below 4.40 since way back in 2003, when he was a 25-year-old with the Phillies.
For comparison the 22-year-old Kershaw has a 3.36 ERA and 285 strikeouts in 279 career innings, while the 25-year-old Billingsley has a 3.55 ERA and 580 strikeouts in 634 career innings. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, since everyone in the rotation will start 32-34 games if they remain healthy, but this sure seems like rewarding a mediocre veteran just for being a mediocre veteran.
Hiroki Kuroda is locked in as the Dodgers’ fourth starter, but the final rotation spot hasn’t been decided yet as Ramon Ortiz, Eric Stults, Russ Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios, and Charlie Haeger all battle for the gig. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are “shopping” Stults, however, which would seemingly indicate that he’s a long shot.

Dominic Smith dealing with a strained right quad

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Mets first baseman Dominic Smith is dealing with a strained right quad and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Smith, 22, did not play in the Mets’ first Grapefruit League game after showing up late. He played on Saturday, scoring two runs on a single and a hit-by-pitch in two plate appearances. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup.

The Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason, which makes him the front runner for the starting job at first base. Smith needs to have a strong spring showing to make the 25-man roster but so far, it hasn’t gone well.

Smith made his major league debut in August last year and ended up playing in 49 games. He struggled to a .198/.262/.395 slash line with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 183 plate appearances.