Desperate to add an arm to their ailing rotation, the Dodgers signed a pitcher with a reputation as a head hunter who was badmouthed by his former teammates when he was recently released by the Texas Rangers.
Manager Joe Torre downplayed how Vicente Padilla might affect the Dodgers’ clubhouse, saying, “I don’t think it’s a risk. I’m serious. I think we’re as a team far enough along that if someone’s a bad influence, it’s not going to affect other people.”
The move was made on the same day the Dodgers put Hiroki Kuroda on the 15-day disabled list.
Padilla, whom the Dodgers will start paying a prorated share of the major league minimum of $400,000 when he goes on the active roster, last pitched for the Rangers on Aug. 5. The Rangers owe him the remainder of his $12-million salary and the $1.75 million to buy out the option of his contract for 2010.
Padilla was 8-6 with a 4.92 earned-run average in 18 starts for the Rangers.
The 31-year-old right-hander will pitch for triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday and is scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers in Colorado a week from tonight.
Padilla defended his reputation.
“I’m not a bad person,” he said. “They’ll find that out here.”
Of his tendency to throw at opposing players, he said, “First, I’ve never thrown at anyone’s head. Second, I like to pitch inside. That’s how I pitch.”
Padilla said he was surprised when he was let go by the Rangers and disappointed by how his former teammates described him.
“Whenever people have something bad to say, they wait until you’re gone,” he said.
“They don’t say it in person. I don’t think that’s right. They should have said it to me in person. No one ever told me anything.”
Padilla said he didn’t know if any other team was interested in signing him.
General Manager Ned Colletti admitted that the Dodgers had an increased sense of urgency to acquire a pitcher after Kuroda was hit in the head with a line drive Saturday, but he said they never engaged in serious talks with John Smoltz, who signed with St. Louis for a similar deal earlier in the day.
“I don’t think they had any interest to come here,” Colletti said.
Kuroda to the DL
Back in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, Kuroda was far enough removed from the scary moment to joke about it. So were his teammates.
“He has a hard head,” Matt Kemp cracked. “I probably would’ve been out for the count.”
Kuroda was replaced on the active roster by Tony Abreu, who was called up from Albuquerque for the second time in two weeks.
Kuroda said he still suffers from intermittent headaches and that driving a car for long periods causes him to tire. He said he is afraid to run because he doesn’t want to rattle his brain.
But Kuroda said he hopes to resume throwing soon so that he could be ready to pitch when he’s eligible to be activated Aug. 31. He is scheduled to play catch today.
Asked if he thinks he will be afraid the next time he takes the mound in a game, Kuroda replied, “I wonder. When you pitch, you don’t think about balls getting hit back at you. I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Kemp back in lineup
Kemp said he felt sick when he woke up Wednesday morning -- sick enough that he didn’t think he would be in the lineup on his bobblehead night.
“I was like, ‘This isn’t going to happen,’ ” he said.
But Kemp, who was held out of the lineup the previous night because he had a 100-degree fever, said his condition improved over the course of the day.
Kemp’s doll depicted him pointing up at the sky with both index fingers.
“It looks like me,” he said. “I look better in person.”
Kemp went into the game on Wednesday with a .312 average that ranked ninth in the National League but he went 0 for 4 and dropped to .309.