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Here's an opening-day pitch: Vicente Padilla as Dodgers' swing man

December 6, 2010 |  7:05 am

Padilla_640
'Tis the season to go shopping … unless, of course, you're the Dodgers and have done the kind of early-buying thing that can make your neighbors all envious.

Those busy little elves in Chavez Ravine have almost completed their shopping list, what with the signings of starters Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland, catcher Rod Barajas, outfielder Jay Gibbons and infielder Juan Uribe.

Having it done and almost having it done, however, are two completely different things. So as the winter meetings begin Monday, could the Dodgers' next move actually be an old one?

Vicente Padilla, back once more?

At first blush, this seems an odd one, the Dodgers having already completed their rotation without inviting Padilla back for a third term. One moment you're the opening-day starter, the next you can’t make the cut.

Still, it has to be understood that five starting pitchers are never enough, several typically finding their way to the disabled list at some point. It only becomes more likely when a pitcher gets up there in years, and did I mention Garland is 31, Lilly turns 35 next month and Kuroda turns 36 in February?

Padilla went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA with the Dodgers last season, and took two trips to the DL. When he was healthy, however, he could be very impressive. He had a seven-game stretch between June and July where he went 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA.

Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick
first reported the Dodgers were still in discussions to re-sign Padilla even after signing Garland. I actually like the idea, assuming he comes at a reasonable price. Which would be a lot less than the $5.025 million he made last season.

Padilla has been exclusively a starting pitcher for the last nine seasons, but would seem an ideal candidate to be a swing man. Gurnick also floated the idea that Padilla's stuff is good enough that he could close games, should Jonathan Broxton continue to falter.

Starting pitching is getting very thin on the free-agent market, so Padilla may yet find what he feels is a more appealing offer. Still, he didn't always enjoy the best of times with teammates at his other stops and had things going in a better direction with the Dodgers.

General Manager Ned Colletti would still like to add a left fielder and some help for the bullpen.

Vicente Padilla, bullpen help. Shoppers have done a lot worse.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Vicente Padilla. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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