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Vicente Padilla expected to return before the All-Star break

February 23, 2011 | 10:35 am

Vicente_450 This could have been worse. General Manager Ned Colletti said he “absolutely” expected Vicente Padilla to pitch again this season. In fact, he expressed confidence that Padilla would return from his surgery before the All-Star break.

Padilla is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday to release a nerve that is entrapped by one of the deep muscles in his forearm.

Because problems with the nerve forced Padilla to be sidelined for almost two months last season, Colletti said the Dodgers were well aware that he was a health risk. When Padilla underwent a physical after re-signing this off-season, the nerve had “calmed down,” according to Colletti.

“This came back when he started to increase his velocity the other day,” Colletti said. “So rather than go through this all season long and wander back and forth, back and forth, this was the best course of action.”

With Padilla slated to be a reliever, his rehabilitation process presumably will not be as lengthy as it would be if he were a starter.

If not for Colletti, the situation likely would have been portrayed far differently in this space, as rookie manager Don Mattingly’s evasive responses earlier created confusion. In his morning briefing with reporters, Mattingly showed he had a long way to go before anyone started calling him Donnie Press Conference.

Sticking to the company line that a timetable for Padilla’s return would not be known until after the completion of the surgery, Mattingly made it seem as though Padilla might be lost for the season.

Asked if he had been told whether Padilla could possibly pitch this season, Mattingly said, “The timetable thing has not really come up. You know, I don’t really want to talk about timetables because I don’t really want to put up an artificial date or something in there. We talked about generalities that. ... Again, timetable. I just don’t want to put ... "

Told that based on what he said, reporters didn’t know if Padilla would ever pitch again, Mattingly replied, “I’ll tell you what. Vicente is scheduled for the surgery Thursday. In listening to" trainer Stan Conte, the Dodgers will have Padilla "here on Friday. So this isn’t a continued thing. We’re going to know more quickly. Sooner rather than later, we’re going to be able to talk about these things. I just don’t want to talk about it until I get medical information from Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache. I don’t really want to do his job or make a guess.”

The most Mattingly would say is that he was “hoping he’s going to return.”

-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

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

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