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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Padilla to begin rehab Thursday

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 25 with a nerve problem at the top of his right forearm, will begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment with high Single-A Inland Empire on Thursday night against High Desert. He is tentatively scheduled to make three starts for the 66ers, putting him on track for a possible return to the Dodgers around June 18.

Padilla will be followed in that game by rehabbing reliever George Sherrill, who was slated to make his first appearance for Inland Empire on Tuesday night at Lancaster and would be making his second one against High Desert. If those two outings go well, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said he wants Sherrill to face Triple-A hitters once before coming back.

Sherrill, who is sidelined with mid-back tightness, is eligible for activation next Tuesday against St. Louis. He probably would make his final rehab appearance for Albuquerque either Saturday or Sunday at home against Memphis.

Honeycutt said Padilla will pitch three innings, more or less, and throw 45-50 pitches his first time out. After that, he will increase his workload with each start until he is ready to return. Padilla probably will do his entire rehab with the 66ers, but there is a slight chance he could do part of it at Albuquerque.

When the Dodgers do get Padilla back, they will have a set starting rotation for really the first time this season. Manager Joe Torre has spent most of the season choosing his fifth starter on a case-by-case basis, especially since knuckleballer Charlie Haeger struggled so much in the role early.

McDonald suffers setback

James McDonald's path back to the major leagues has taken another unexpected turn.

The lanky right-hander, who was 4-1 with a 5.05 ERA in nine starts for Albuquerque, suffered a serious right-hamstring pull while running the bases last Wednesday night against Reno. McDonald was caught in a moment of indecision as to whether to slide or go into second base standing as he attempted to break up a double play.

McDonald is presently on the seven-day DL and is at the Dodgers' spring-training facility in Glendale, Ariz., where he is throwing off flat ground. But he isn't expected to return to pitching competitively anytime soon.

"It's a significant strain," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. "It's not a small one. We call it a Grade 2 out of a possible three. We'll just have to see how long it takes. We don't believe it's a matter of days. It's longer than that."

McDonald is 5-5 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts and 45 relief appearances for the Dodgers over the past two seasons, and he pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings over two appearances in the postseason two years ago. He came to spring training this year as a slight favorite amid a large field of competitors to win the fifth spot in the starting rotation, but he had a poor showing in the Cactus League and was optioned on March 20.

Loney to hear from Torre

Torre said he would speak with first baseman James Loney about Loney's ninth-inning baserunning gaffe on Monday night, a mistake that would have been costly if Casey Blake hadn't forced a walk-off balk later in the inning with a phony move off third base that momentarily distracted Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez.

Loney, who was on second with nobody out, broke for third when Diamondbacks third baseman Augie Ojeda started toward the mound to talk with Vasquez without calling time. Ojeda quickly recovered, and Loney was tagged out in a rundown.

"I will talk to him, but I don't think anybody really has to say anything to him," Torre said. "He was beating his head against the wall somewhere, I think. The concept wasn't bad, but he just pulled the trigger too soon. He didn't wait until the fielder went all the way (to the mound). But one good thing was that he was aware of the fact they didn't call timeout."

After that game, Loney called the mistake "the dumbest thing I have ever done or seen in life, not just in baseball."

Minor awards

Albuquerque's Seth Etherton and John Lindsey were named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively.

Etherton made just one start, but it was a good one. He pitched seven shutout innings on Thursday night against Reno, striking out a team season-high 11 while allowing just three hits in an 8-0 victory over the team he pitched for in 2009.

The former USC standout is the quintessential reclamation project. He is 33 and logged time in the majors with the Angels as far back as 2000 and also pitched for Cincinnati, Oakland and Kansas City. But due at least in part to injuries, his career hit the skids, and he spent the 2008 season with Long Beach of the independent Golden Baseball League before pitching all of last season with Reno, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.

Lindsey hit .407 (11 for 27) in seven games last week, with two doubles, five homers and 13 RBI. He entered Tuesday night's game at Nashville hitting .430 -- a ridiculous number this late in the season even by the skewed standards of the hitter-friendly PCL -- with 22 doubles, 10 homers, 42 RBI and a .470 on-base percentage.

Lindsey, also 33 and a strapping first baseman, is in his 16th minor league season and has never spent so much as a day in the majors.

Honoring Lima

The Dodgers will celebrate the life of Jose Lima, the longtime major league pitcher who died on May 23, during this week's Viva Los Dodgers event before Sunday's game against Atlanta. Viva Los Dodgers takes place in the parking lot beyond the outfield bleachers.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.