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.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.