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DODGERS FYI

Even far from home, Dodgers' Vicente Padilla feels at home

Veteran pitcher, who starts Game 3 of the division series Saturday, has done well since joining Dodgers in August and believes he's rehabilitated a reputation damaged in Texas.

October 10, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

ST. LOUIS — The journey from a small town in Nicaragua to Busch Stadium was a long one for Vicente Padilla. So long, in fact, that Padilla said it compelled his mother to make her first trip to the United States in three years.

Padilla's mother will be among the spectators when Padilla takes the mound today for the Dodgers, who will be looking to complete a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League division series.

"I never dreamed of this," said Padilla, who will be pitching in his first playoff game in 11 major league seasons.

Especially this season.

He was in the final year of a three-year, $33.75-millon contract with the Texas Rangers but was put on waivers by the American League team in June and released in August.

Well aware of his reputation as a bad teammate and headhunter, the Dodgers stayed clear of Padilla for most of the summer. But a vacancy suddenly developed in their rotation when Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive, and they decided to take a chance on the temperamental 32-year-old, in part because he would cost them only about $100,000.

Padilla said he was misunderstood in Texas.

"I talk to people, but I'm not the kind of person who talks every day," said Padilla, who often sits alone in the corner of the Dodgers' clubhouse.

But Padilla said he feels more comfortable in this clubhouse than he did in his last one, particularly because of its group of older Latin players. Players and coaches said he hasn't caused any problems since his arrival.

Due to be a free agent this winter, Padilla acknowledged that he had no idea what kind of future he had in the game when his tenure with Texas ended. By posting a 4-0 record with a 3.20 earned-run average in eight games with the Dodgers, including seven starts, Padilla said he thinks he has revived his career.

"I would like to come back" to Los Angeles, he said, "but the decision is theirs."

Garland deal complete

The Dodgers completed their August trade for Jon Garland by sending infield prospect Tony Abreu to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The deal wasn't finalized until Friday because of an unsettled grievance the players' union filed against the Dodgers on behalf of Abreu. At stake were 47 days Abreu spent in the minors in 2007 -- days the union argued should count as major league service time because Abreu was demoted when he was injured, something that is against major league rules.

The Diamondbacks had been unaware of the grievance, which, if won by Abreu, could have made him eligible for salary arbitration as early as the end of the 2010 season.

But Arizona's concerns about the situation were alleviated when Abreu settled for 30 days of service time and an undisclosed payment. The terms of the settlement made it likely that Abreu won't be arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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