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.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.