Dodgers' Vicente Padilla heading to DL

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers will place Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list on Friday because of a bulging disk in the veteran right-hander's neck that has plagued him in his past two starts.

This will mark the second DL stint this season for Padilla, who missed almost two months with a nerve problem at the top of his right forearm. Club officials are cautiously optimistic that Padilla won't miss nearly that much time in this case.

"He will miss a start, maybe two, but I'm not saying it's going to be the rest of the year," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "We just have to give it a chance to quiet down."

The move is retroactive to Sunday, meaning Padilla will be eligible to return on Aug. 31. That means he will miss at least three starts.

Reliever Travis Schlichting will be recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque for the fourth time this season to fill Padilla's roster spot. Rookie reliever Carlos Monasterios is tentatively scheduled to start on Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds, when Padilla had been scheduled to start, but Torre said that could change if the club needed Monasterios, the Dodgers' primary long reliever, in Thursday's game Thursday night's game versus the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

Both Torre and Dodgers director of medical services Stan Conte said the injury is nothing they didn't know about, but that Padilla wanted to try to pitch through it. Torre admitted that the injury was a major factor in Padilla's ineffectiveness in those two starts, when he gave up 12 runs on 14 hits over 9 1/3 innings.

In his previous nine starts since he was activated from his last DL stint in June, Padilla had been arguably the Dodgers' most reliable starter, going 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA while allowing 35 hits in 60 innings, holding opposing hitters to a .168 batting average and a .228 on-base percentage and posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4-to-1.

After Padilla was torched for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night, neither Padilla, nor Torre nor pitching coach Rick Honeycutt mentioned that Padilla was battling neck pain that affected his pitching mechanics.

"I went along with him because he certainly didn't want to use this as an excuse," Torre said. "He just wanted to say it was a bad outing. It was just something he was trying to deal with, and he just had trouble pitching up to his standards."

Padilla finally underwent an MRI exam on Thursday that showed a bulging disk in his neck, as diagnosed by back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Jr.

"It wasn't a big bulge," Conte said. "Dr. Watkins believes it's not surgical. [Padilla] is going to receive an epidural [Friday] to help reduce the inflammation."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.