Dodgers, Vicente Padilla finalize deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers finalized their one-year, $2 million contract with Vicente Padilla on Thursday, two days after the veteran right-hander agreed to terms. The deal contains several performance bonuses, but a base salary less than half the $5.025 million the Dodgers paid Padilla in 2010.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement released by the team that Padilla's "flexibility and willingness to be in whatever role we may need him in was very important to us." Although Coletti didn't specify what role club officials have in mind for Padilla, barring an injury to another pitcher, he clearly will begin the season in the bullpen and probably stay there for most of the year.

Padilla, who began his major league career as a reliever for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999, has made a grand total of two relief appearances in the past nine years. He also was the Dodgers' Opening Day starter in 2010.

However, with the Dodgers' starting rotation already set with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland, the Dodgers signed Padilla to be a possible swingman. However, because of his pitching repertoire, club officials also believe he could be a possible alternative as the team's closer if incumbent closer Jonathan Broxton continues to struggle.

Padilla, 33, battled injuries this season and made only 16 starts. But despite a middling 6-5 record and 4.07 ERA, his statistics bear out the fact that when he was healthy, he was pretty good. He gave up just 79 hits in 95 innings and struck out 3 1/2 batters for every one he walked. He had a 1.61 ERA at home, where opposing batters hit just .168 off him.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.