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Closer woes continue: Vicente Padilla to have neck surgery, could be lost for season

June 13, 2011 |  5:30 pm

Dodgers Hope you’re liking that closer by committee or matchups or roll of the dice or whatever it is, because it doesn’t figure to change soon.

The Dodgers learned Monday they had lost their No. 3 closer, Vicente Padilla, for an extended period and possibly even the season, when it was decided he needed disk surgery in his neck.

Manager Don Mattingly said Padilla is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday.

"He’s going to be out for an extended period, it’s not one of those two-, three-week deals," Mattingly said.

He said it could even prove the end to Padilla’s season.

"It sounds like it could be," Mattingly said. "It just depends on how he comes out" of surgery.

Padilla, 33, already had forearm surgery this spring. He returned April 22, originally as a long-relief man. After injuries to closer Jonathan Broxton and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, Padilla became the closer.

His arm, however, flared up and he returned to the disabled list May 19. He was scheduled to be activated on the first day of the Dodgers’ recently completed road trip June 3 in Cincinnati when the neck acted up again.

Padilla (three saves, 4.15 ERA) had the same bulging disk problem last season.

"Last year we gave him a shot and it took him [three weeks] to come back," Mattingly said. "We tried it again, and he wasn’t getting any relief from it."

Padilla is one of seven Dodgers to earn a save this season. They currently have no designated closer. And there is  no scheduled date for the return of either Broxton (right elbow bruise) or Kuo (anxiety disorder).

Despite Padilla's neck injury last season when he was their fifth starter, the Dodgers last winter signed him to a one-year, $2-million contract so he could act as an insurance policy for the rotation and bullpen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers' Vicente Padilla. Credit: David Santiago / Associated Press

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