Dodgers “absolutely” expect Vicente Padilla to pitch this year and Don Mattingly ruffled some feathers

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Vicente Padilla is headed for surgery on a nerve in his forearm and there’s no official timetable yet for his recovery, but general manager Ned Colletti told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he “absolutely” expects Padilla to pitch for the Dodgers at some point this season.

In fact, according to Hernandez “he expressed confidence that Padilla would return from his surgery before the All-Star break.” Colletti also explained that the Dodgers knew his forearm and elbow problems presented a health risk when they re-signed Padilla to a one-year, $3 million deal that includes up to $6 million in incentives.

What’s interesting about Colletti’s optimism regarding Padilla returning before the All-Star break is that the initial word of the surgery suggested the 33-year-old right-hander would be out significantly longer and, as Hernandez writes, “rookie manager Don Mattingly’s evasive responses earlier created confusion.”

Hernandez went on to say that “in his morning briefing with reporters, Mattingly showed he had a long way to go before anyone started calling him Donnie Press Conference,” which qualifies as a pretty harsh bit of criticism from a beat reporter who’ll be relying on Mattingly for information all season. There’s been a lot of skepticism surrounding Mattingly’s managerial readiness and he certainly hasn’t helped himself any when it comes to the perception that he might be overmatched as Joe Torre’s replacement.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.