Padilla threw off a mound Friday for the first time since his surgery on February 24. (David Young | True Blue LA)

Dodgers Spring Training: Vicente Padilla Might Return Earlier Than Expected

Padilla threw off a mound Friday for the first time since his surgery on February 24.

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Dodgers Spring Training: Vicente Padilla Could Return Earlier Than Expected

The Dodgers, after an eight-game losing streak this spring, have won their last three games. However, it is only spring training, and Cactus League records aren't terribly important one way or another. What is important is getting ready for the regulation, and staying healthy. On the health front, the Dodgers have taken some hits, but none look to be too devastating in the long term.

Casey Blake is dealing with inflammation in his back, and might start the season on the disabled list. Blake insists he will be ready to play on March 31, but even if he isn't ready he doesn't figure to miss much time. Then again, a back injury could be one of those lingering maladies that take their toll gradually all season.

Vicente Padilla had arm surgery on February 24, and has said previously that he plans to be ready to pitch for the Dodgers by May 1. Padilla did throw off a mound on Friday, for the first time since his surgery, and now the timetable for his return might move up a bit. It has been generally assumed that Padilla would open the season on the disabled list, though manager Don Mattingly suggested a possible early return for the hurler:

"It's still up in the air, it's one of those things. He's progressing nicely," Mattingly said of Padilla. "The fact that he hasn't been out there, it's tough to say on the 31st whether he'd be comfortable enough to pitch." The earliest the Dodgers can place a player on the DL is 10 days before the season, so even if Padilla did start the season on the sidelines he could return as soon as April 5. That is, if he is ready to pitch.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Spring Training: Vicente Padilla Throws Off Mound, Casey Blake Might Begin Season On Disabled List

The Dodgers' Vicente Padilla, who underwent surgery on February 24 to fix his right radial nerve, which was being entrapped by one of the deep muscles in his forearm, threw a bullpen session this morning at Camelback Ranch. It was the first time the right-hander has thrown off a mound since the surgery.

Padilla threw about 30 pitches in the bullpen to catcher A.J. Ellis, while trainer Stan Conte, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, manager Don Mattingly, and bullpen coach Ken Howell. Approximately five of Padilla's pitches were clocked at 80 mph or above, topping out at 83. Padilla appeared to be in no pain immediately after his bullpen session, then ran in the outfield before returning to the clubhouse.

In other Dodgers' injury news, third baseman Casey Blake might start the season on the disabled list. Blake is dealing with inflammation in his back, and hasn't played since Saturday. "It’s hard to get too far down the line when he’s not swinging the bat yet, not taking ground balls or anything," Mattingly told reporters this morning. It is presumed that if Blake isn't able to start the season, Juan Uribe would play third base, while Jamey Carroll would start at second base.

Uribe is starting at third base today for the Dodgers in Scottsdale, his third straight start at the hot corner. The Dodgers are playing the Giants this afternoon, with 2010 minor league pitcher of the year Rubby De La Rosa starting on the mound. Jeff Suppan starts for San Francisco.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Gimenez Homers In Dodgers 6-4 Win Over Diamondbacks

The Dodgers captured their second straight win of the spring, with a come-from-behind 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch on Thursday. Eighth inning home runs by Hector Gimenez and Gabe Kapler completed the comeback, with the three-run shot by Gimenez the key blow. Chad Billingsley threw five innings in his fourth outing of the spring, throwing 83 pitches.

Gimenez has played catcher and first base this spring, and is vying for a spot on the bench when the Dodgers break camp in less than two weeks. "They know I can play first and I can be behind the plate too," said the 28-year old Gimenez, who spent last season in Double A in the Pirates' system. "The last couple of days I haven't been behind the plate a lot, but I'm still work on catching every day, trying to work wherever they give me an opportunity to play."

Billingsley used his game to work on both his changeup and curveball, working on different release points on the latter. Of his changeup, which has improved this spring, Billingsley said, "I was just working on it, throwing it for strikes, throwing it in the zone. Overall I was very happy with it."

The Dodgers wore green jerseys and caps today, which the players autographed for charity, to be auctioned off later this season.

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Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton eached pitched scoreless innings in relief for the Dodgers today. Matt Kemp hit his team-leading third home run of the spring, a towering two-run blast in the fourth inning off D-Backs' starter Aaron Heilman.

After the game, the Dodgers reassigned Jerry Sands, their 2010 minor league player of the year, and Justin Sellers to minor league camp. There are 42 players remaining in major league camp for the Dodgers, 21 pitchers and 21 position players. The Dodgers travel to Scottsdale Saturday to face the Giants, with 2010 minor league pitcher of the year Rubby De La Rosa getting the start.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Spring Training: St. Patrick's Day, Green Uniforms, & The Return Of Jay Gibbons

The Dodgers had their only day off of the Cactus League on Wednesday, and they are back in action today at Camelback Ranch to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers sent Chad Billingsley to the hill today, making his fourth start of the spring. Since it is St. Patrick's Day, the Dodgers are wearing green uniforms and green caps (though they are wearing blue helmets while batting), as seen here by Clayton Kershaw and Casey Blake, watching today's game from the dugout.

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Tim Redding, who is vying for the fifth starter job, at least until Jon Garland returns from his oblique injury, pitched in a B game this morning at Camelback Ranch. Redding is on a minor-league contract, and doesn't have an out clause in his contract until June 15, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. That will affect Redding's battle with John Ely, who is already on the 40-man roster and can be optioned to the minors without risking losing him to waivers.

Today also marks the return of Jay Gibbons, who was having vision problems but after a trip to San Francisco to see an eye specialist, he can see clearly now. Gibbons, who hadn't played since Sunday, is 2-for-22 this spring.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Spring Training: Link, Mitchell Among Roster Cuts

The Dodgers battle the Rangers today at Camelback Ranch, and will send opening day starter Clayton Kershaw to the mound today, making his fourth start of the spring. So far in Cactus League play, Kershaw has allowed only two unearned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Also scheduled to pitch is Hong-Chih Kuo, making his second appearance of the spring. Today's game will be televised on both Prime Ticket and MLB Network.

The Dodgers made a round of cuts this morning, sending Jon Link, Russ Mitchell, Roman Colon, and JD Closser to minor league camp. That leaves 44 players left in big league camp, with 21 pitchers and 23 position players. Now is the time when regulars will start to play longer and more often. Today's lineup is close to what could be the opening day lineup, without the ailing Casey Blake (waiting on MRI results) and Jay Gibbons (getting eyes examined).

Furcal SS
DeJesus 2B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Uribe 3B
Loney 1B
Barajas C
Gwynn LF
Kershaw P

Tomorrow is the Dodgers' only off day of the spring, and no pitchers are scheduled to throw. Except Vicente Padilla, that is, as the right-hander recovers from surgery on his forearm last month. There is no word yet as to when Padilla can throw off a mound.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Spring Training: Blake, Gibbons Among (Black &) Blue

For the most part this spring, the Dodgers regulars have been given ample rest. When they play, it's usually for only four to five innings per clip, and even then Casey Blake, Juan Uribe, and Rafael Furcal have been only playing every other day. Still, several Dodgers are having some health issues this spring.

Casey Blake had an MRI this morning on his sore right side, as a precaution. Blake felt tightness in his back last week, then tweaked it on Saturday while trying to beat out a bunt. It was diagnosed as a ribcage injury, but the Dodgers want to make sure there isn't a more serious issue, and Blake is expected to miss a few more days.

Jay Gibbons has had an awful spring, on and off the field. Just as Cactus League games began, Gibbons had a bout with the flu that sidelined him for several days. At the plate, Gibbons has just two singles and a walk in 23 plate appearances, and has been dealing with vision issues. The eye troubles have become so serious that Gibbons will go see a specialist in San Francisco on Tuesday, per Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles.

To top it off, the Dodgers are being cautious with Juan Uribe, who has "general tightness" all over, per Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times. On the field the Dodgers lost to the Texas Rangers in Surprise Arizona, as John Ely gave up his first runs of the spring. Ely does have 10 strikeouts with no walks in 10 innings this spring. They play the Rangers again on Tuesday, followed by their only off day of the spring on Wednesday.

The regulars will begin to play more often, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. As a result, coupled with the fact that minor league games begin on Friday, several cuts will be made this week. Today alone, the Dodgers optioned pitcher Carlos Monasterios and reassigned pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa to minor league camp before the game, then after the game made six more cuts. Pitcher Javy Guerra, first baseman John Lindsey, and outfielders Jamie Hoffmann and Trayvon Robinson were optioned, and shortstop Dee Gordon and catcher Damaso Espino were reassigned to minor league camp after today's game, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The Dodgers now have 48 players remaining in big league camp, 23 pitchers and 25 position players.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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