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MLB: Joe Torre says Dodgers sign RHP Vicente Padilla

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Wednesday the club signed free agent pitcher Vicente Padilla, two days after the right-hander was released by Texas.

Torre said that Padilla will pitch Saturday at Triple-A Albuquerque before joining the Dodgers and will make his first scheduled start for his new team on Aug. 27 at Colorado.

The club later confirmed the 2002 All-Star signed a minor league contract.

The Rangers put Padilla on unconditional waivers Monday after being designated for assignment on Aug. 7. He cleared waivers and became a free agent on Wednesday.

Padilla, who was the Rangers' No. 2 starter when the season began, was 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts this season. Originally acquired in December 2005 in a trade with Philadelphia, Padilla was 43-34 with a 4.90 ERA over the last four seasons with the Rangers.

The move suddenly made sense for Los Angeles after right-hander Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive on Saturday in Arizona. Kuroda went on the disabled list Wednesday as he recovers from post-concussion symptoms.

If Kuroda hadn't gotten hurt, would the Dodgers have pursued Padilla?

"That's a good question," Torre said. "I still think we probably look to be better. We were talking about him before."

The Dodgers had also discussed John Smoltz, who was released by Boston but the right-hander signed with St. Louis on Wednesday.

The Dodgers will owe Padilla a prorated portion of the minimum salary for the rest of the season, which comes to about $100,000. The Rangers must pay the remainder of Padilla's $12 million salary this season.

Padilla joins a staff that has just three healthy starters remaining from the group that began the season. Chad Billingsley returned to the rotation Tuesday after missing two starts with a hamstring injury. Also healthy are Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw, who started Wednesday night after displaying flu-like symptoms a day earlier.

Padilla angered the Rangers earlier this season by throwing at hitters, including two incidents involving former teammate Mark Teixeira in a game on June 2. The next day he was put on waivers in a move the team hoped would be a wake-up call. Padilla made his next start on June 7. He hit Oakland's Kurt Suzuki, then was designated for assignment two days later.

"If he did that on a regular basis on purpose, that's not something that we do," Torre said. "If someone pitches inside and as a result, somebody gets hit that's a different story."

In going back to the National League, Padilla will have to bat, which could make him a target for retaliation, something he didn't have to face in the American League with the designated hitter.

Padilla played with Arizona in 1999-2000.

The 31-year-old from Nicaragua had a reputation for distancing himself in the Texas clubhouse and not having a positive attitude. Torre said he isn't worried about the possibility of Padilla messing up the Dodgers' feel-good clubhouse chemistry.

"If he can help us win ballgames, if there's any issues that come up that are in contradiction to that, then we deal with it. Until that time, he's going to have a clean slate here," the manager said.

"I don't think it's a risk. As a team, we're far enough along if somebody is a bad influence, I don't think that's going to affect other people."

Manny Ramirez was ready to welcome Padilla upon hearing the news, even though he said he didn't know the pitcher.

"A pitcher that is going to go out there and protect his players, I want that guy on my team," he said.

Asked about Padilla's portrayal as a bad teammate by Texas management and some players, Ramirez said, "That's what they said about me when I came to L.A. and they were wrong."