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.

MLB now trying to get minor leaguers exempted from minimum wage law at the state level

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In recent years, Major League Baseball spent significant amounts of money lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. They succeeded last year, as minor leaguers are now considered seasonal workers and as such are not owed minimum wage or overtime pay.

MLB is not yet done attacking minor leaguers. Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times reports that MLB is trying to get Arizona lawmakers to exempt players from state minimum wage law. A proposed bill, HB 2180, is being sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (R – Coolidge) and would protect MLB from lawsuits, past or present, for not paying minor leaguers at least minimum wage during spring training. Minor leaguers already do not get paid for their work in spring training, so this is simply a preemptive maneuver by MLB to protect itself from potential lawsuits. As Giles notes, HB 2180 would enshrine the exemption in federal law in Arizona’s state statute.

Shope said, “I think it’s just trying to clear up what MLB considers a gray area on their blank. … My assumption is they obviously do have a concern, and are trying to protect a flank of theirs more in the pro-active sense.” Talking about minor leaguers, Shope said spring training is “essentially a tryout. You’re not on the team yet.”

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and one of the lawyers representing Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle in a case Craig wrote about here, spoke to Giles for his article. Broshuis said, “It really is just unfortunate, because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Broshuis is seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Florida and Arizona, the league’s two homes for spring training. Arizona is home to the Cactus League, the spring training league for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. A federal judge denied Broshuis’s request but he appealed and is waiting on a ruling.

MLB makes a ton of money during spring training the same way it makes money during the regular season: by charging for tickets, concessions, merchandise, and parking. Minor leaguers are part of the player population helping attract fans to the ballpark, so they deserve to be compensated for their work. That they are not is criminal enough, but to brazenly push legislation to remove any legal remedies they might have had is even more evil. MLB has been setting revenue records year over year, taking in more than $10 billion last year. The league and its individual teams can afford to provide a comfortable life for minor leaguers, but every day it makes the choice not to do so out of avarice.