Ted Green: Don't expect to see the same Vicente Padilla
He's also been labeled a malcontent and bad teammate, and those were some of the more positive reviews.
Just this Monday, the Texas Rangers were willing to pay him $8 million to have the privilege to show him the door. They were so eager to get rid of him, they probably limo'd him to the airport themselves.
He has drilled opposing hitters for retaliation both real and imagined, and if you ask around opposing dugouts, he might be the most hated pitcher in the major leagues.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that Vicente Padilla will be a perfect little angel with the Dodgers.
Why? Because he has to be. He has no other choice.
Why? Because he has only six more weeks of guaranteed employment in baseball.
And so as the 31-year-old right-hander from Nicaragua with 94 career wins and a history of consistent inconsistency tries to patch the expanding holes in the Dodgers' starting rotation, he'll also be auditioning for his next gig, probably someplace else next season. That makes the Dodgers his tether, his life raft, probably Padilla's last connection to the show and his best hope to continue his chosen occupation as a big league pitcher.
If he doesn't behave here, if it blows up in L.A., next stop is the Mexican League.
Now it's true that earlier this season Padilla angered the Rangers by purposely throwing at hitters, including two incidents with former teammate Mark Teixeira on June 2. The next day he was put on waivers, the Rangers hoping he would heed the wake-up call.
He made his next start June 7, hitting the A's Kurt Suzuki, prompting Texas to designate him for assignment two days later. They had had enough. Adios, Señor Padilla.
"If he did that on a regular basis on purpose, that's not something we do," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre says. "If someone pitches inside and, as a result, somebody gets hit, that's a different story."
In other words, the role Padilla is going to be asked to fill, presumably as the fifth starter once Hiroki Kuroda comes off the DL, is important -- but not important enough for Torre to risk blowing up his clubhouse.
If Torre smells sulfa in the lab, expect this chemistry experiment to be called off immediately. Especially with the Dodgers' investment in him, less than $100,000, representing the equivalent of Dodger Dogs and beers for you and your five best friends.
So if you hear any hand-wringing about the Dodgers bringing in another guy with baggage (although Manny Ramirez's, admittedly, is of the designer kind), just think Ron Artest. Lakers fans who think they're going to get the guy who went ballistic, going up into the stands to indiscriminately punch fans in the Palace of Auburn Hills, are going to be surprised to find that Artest has morphed into David Robinson.
New team, new town, new clubhouse, new teammates and a honeymoon that has to last only until the first week in October.
Even Vicente Padilla should be good with that.
-- Ted Green
Green formerly covered sports for the L.A. Times. He is currently Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News.
Photo: Vicente Padilla reacts after giving up a three run homerun against Jason Kubel of the Minnesota Twins on July 17. Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images.