Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Friday, March 26, 2010
Padilla struggles in latest outing

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If newly named Dodgers Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla pitches the way he did in Friday's Cactus League game, an 8-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals before 7,580 at the Ballpark, Opening Day might drag into opening night.

Padilla threw almost 100 pitches in a forgettable, 4 1/3-inning effort in which he was strong in the beginning, mediocre in the middle and downright awful in the end, giving up hits to five of the final six batters he faced. But when you are a veteran major leaguer with a $5.025 million salary and you aren't trying to win a roster spot, results mean basically nothing, and this was no exception.

"I guess he was fine," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who didn't see Padilla's outing because he spent the first few innings on the minor league side watching Russell Martin. "They said he was good. [Catcher] Brad Ausmus said his slider was really dynamite."

Padilla sailed through the first three innings, giving up only an infield single. But he gave up a leadoff double to Wilson Betemit in the fourth that eventually led to a Royals run on a fielder's-choice grounder. And then, in the fifth inning in front of an audience that included Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Padilla gave up a leadoff single to Chris Getz, a triple to David DeJesus that sliced the Dodgers' lead to 3-2 and a single to Scott Podsednik, tying the score.

After Podsednik stole second and Betemit took a called third strike, Billy Butler singled in Podsednik for a 4-3 Royals lead and Jose Guillen sent Padilla to the clubhouse with a line single up the middle.

Willie Bloomquist then doubled home Butler, the fifth run charged to Padilla.

Padilla's past two outings have been somewhat rocky. He now has a 6.28 ERA and has given up nine hits in 14 1/3 innings. On a positive note, he has walked only two. He will pitch in one more spring training game Wednesday against San Francisco, but it will be abbreviated, as will the final spring appearance for each of the five starters.

Ramirez hits second HR of spring

Manny Ramirez hit his second home run of the spring, a shot onto the grass berm in left-center leading off the fourth inning against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. Ramirez is hitting .321 with a .424 on-base percentage for the spring.

Martin could return to Cactus League

Martin probably will make his first Cactus League appearance since March 5 -- the Dodgers' first game of the spring and two days before he was diagnosed with a strained right groin -- on Sunday against Cincinnati. Martin played in a Triple-A game for the second day in a row, catching six innings and batting in each of them because minor league spring training games are loosely structured.

He had two hits, and Torre said he also hit a third ball hard.

Martin will take Saturday off.

"Then I think we will have to make a decision about the next day [as to] where he catches," Torre said.

Torre not worried about Sherrill

Torre said early in camp he had been warned by various scouts that set-up man George Sherrill, a former All-Star closer who was acquired from Baltimore at last year's trading deadline and is in camp with the Dodgers for the first time, isn't a good spring training pitcher and not to worry about it.

Now that Sherrill has a 5.06 ERA after seven appearances -- he has failed to get through a full inning in four of them -- Torre said that indeed, he isn't worried.

Not yet, anyway.

"I guess when it happens during the season, I'll worry," Torre said. "I have gone this far, so I'm not about to start panicking now. ... I'm not sure it's done consciously, but it's a game that doesn't count, and all of a sudden something different comes out of your hand. He certainly has been doing all his work. He isn't just going through the motions. But he certainly hasn't been as sharp as he can be."

Pitching for a second consecutive day for the first time this spring, Sherrill walked the first two batters he faced in the sixth, got a force at second on a bad sacrifice attempt, benefited from third baseman Casey Blake's stab of a line drive inches above the ground, then gave up a hit to Billy Butler that ended Sherrill's day.

Closer Jonathan Broxton also went back-to-back for the first time this spring and pitched a scoreless seventh, working around a leadoff single by Bloomquist that could have been ruled an error on third baseman Jamey Carroll. Broxton pitched a perfect inning Thursday and appears to be rounding into midseason form after a rough start.

Torre said Sherrill and Broxton also will go back-to-back on Thursday against Cleveland at Dodger Stadium and Friday against the Angels in Anaheim, their final spring tuneups, and that they will be going in their respective eighth- and ninth-inning roles in those games.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.