Reporting from Atlanta —
Seeing a reporter smile in response to something he said, Vicente Padilla asked, "What are you smiling about? I'm in a bad mood right now."
If he was, he had a unique way of showing it. He laughed.
But what else could he do?
Padilla was clobbered in the Dodgers' 13-1 defeat to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday in what was his worst start this season. The Dodgers' opening-day starter matched a season low in innings pitched by lasting only 4 1/3 innings. He was charged with eight runs and eight hits.
"There's nothing I could do," Padilla said. "They hit me in every possible way."
Padilla put the Dodgers in a 4-0 hole in a five-hit third inning. He gave up four runs in the fifth inning, which was highlighted by a three-run home run by Troy Glaus.
"You have to give them some credit," Padilla said. "That's a first-place team."
Padilla continued his vampire act, falling to 1-2 with a 6.39 earned-run average in day games. He is 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA in night games.
"Honestly, I don't know why that is," he said.
Russell Martin was doing anything but tearing the cover off the ball when he went down this month because of a season-ending hip injury, but his absence has been noticed.
Martin's co-replacements behind the plate, Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis, are a combined four for 37 (.108) with no home runs and one run batted in in the 11 games the Dodgers have played since Martin went down. Ausmus was 0 for 3 Sunday.
Martin was hitting .248 with five home runs and 26 RBIs.
"Our offense from the catcher's spot has been very light," Manager Joe Torre said.
Asked whether he has resigned himself to the reality that he won't get any production from that position, Torre replied, "I think you have to. I don't see any way it's going to change. I'm not going to say we're not going to get a hit or knock in a run, but it's not the threat that Russell gave you."
Mum was the word out of the Dodgers' front office Sunday regarding first-round draft pick Zach Lee.
The Dodgers have until 9 p.m. PDT on Monday to sign Lee, a two-sport star who is enrolled in summer classes at Louisiana State and working out with the football team.
Lee told reporters at Louisiana State's media day last week that he hadn't heard from the Dodgers since they drafted him, but Logan White, the Dodgers' assistant general manager, said the club would make a serious push to sign him.
Lee's parents could not be reached for comment.
Lee is said to be looking for a signing bonus of more than $5 million and at least one team with a top-10 pick is known to have passed on him because of his demands.
Rafael Furcal said he felt substantially better after working out, leading Torre to think the shortstop might be able to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment this week. Torre has said Manny Ramirez could too. … Scott Podsednik extended his hitting streak to 12 games. … Shortstop Jamey Carroll and third baseman Casey Blake were given days off.
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