Vicente Padilla to have neck surgery

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Vicente Padilla, who as recently as 10 days ago appeared to be on the verge of coming off the disabled list after a three-week absence with nerve irritation in his right elbow, will now probably miss the rest of the season because of a recurring neck problem that will require surgery to correct.

Padilla is scheduled for surgery on Thursday to repair a disk in his neck.

"It doesn't sound like good news," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "They tried to treat it conservatively, and that didn't work. It's the same thing he had last year."

Padilla was sidelined for only a little more than two weeks when the problem first arose late last season. After that, it didn't seem to bother him again until he went on a minor league rehabilitation assignment a couple of weeks ago at advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Even then, though, Padilla didn't think much of it until it worsened on June 3, as he was playing catch before a game in Cincinnati as the final test before coming off the DL.

The decision was made at that time to keep him on the DL and send him back to the West Coast the next day for further testing.

"I didn't imagine it would be this bad,'' a visibly frustrated Padilla said that night, with Kenji Nimura interpreting. "I worked very hard, and this was the result."

Mattingly said he wanted to wait until after the surgery to announce a definitive prognosis for Padilla, but all indications are the veteran is done for the year.

"I'm sure (he) could be,'' Mattingly said. "You're not going to come back from neck surgery in two weeks. I think we're looking at an extended period of time."

Padilla, 33, was on the DL for the second time this season, having begun the season there after undergoing surgery during spring training to free a nerve trapped under a muscle in his right forearm. Padilla was last year's Opening Day starter for the Dodgers, then was re-signed by the club last winter to a one-year, $2 million deal with the intention of him becoming a reliever and possibly a closer if incumbent Jonathan Broxton continued to struggle.

Alas, Padilla made only nine appearances for the Dodgers this season, posting a 4.15 ERA and three saves.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.