Vicente Padilla underwent surgery late last month to release a nerve entrapped in his right forearm. The Dodgers originally estimated that he could resume throwing 3-4 weeks after surgery, placing his return somewhere around late April or early May, but it appears that he is progressing faster than most anticipated.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Padilla threw his first bullpen session yesterday since undergoing the surgery, after which Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wouldn’t officially rule him out for the start of the season.
“I don’t know if he’s ahead or behind,” Mattingly said, sidestepping the issue. “There was no timetable because there is no history of the injury. [Being disabled] is still up in the air. He’s progressing nicely. But he hasn’t been out there [in a game], and to be ready by [March] 31st and comfortable enough, it’s hard to say.”
Padilla returned to the Dodgers this winter on a one-year, $2 million contract and is expected to serve as a long reliever and insurance for the starting rotation. He’s probably a longshot for Opening Day at this point, but it’s possible the Dodgers could turn to him if they need a substitute fifth starter for Jon Garland on April 12. If not, John Ely or Tim Redding would likely get the assignment.