Vicente Padilla throws first bullpen session since forearm surgery

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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.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.