Padilla addresses accidental shooting
Dodgers righty thankful to be OK after offseason scare
PHOENIX -- By the way pitcher Vicente Padilla greeted his teammates, club staff and reporters Sunday morning in the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch-Glendale, it was obvious the enigmatic right-hander was happy to have another chance to pitch with the Dodgers.
In fact, he's probably thrilled to have another chance to pitch at all. During the offseason, Padilla suffered a scare when a bodyguard accidentally shot him in the leg at a target range near his home in Managua, Nicaragua. On Sunday, the pitcher shared details of the mishap -- how the bullet entered near the outside of his upper right thigh and exited the back of his leg.
"I was shooting, then my gun just stopped," Padilla said. "It jammed. I looked for the bullet, and I couldn't find it. I gave it to one of my guys, and he couldn't find it, either. Then it went off and hit me in the leg."
Padilla spent the night in the hospital and was walking 15 days after the accident. He's been working out since January, he said, and the leg has not bothered him.
"The doctor told me I was very lucky," Padilla said. "If it would have hit me one inch on either side, I would have been in serious trouble. I was lucky."
Padilla's first reaction at being shot: shock. Then came the excruciating pain of the bullet wound. His pants quickly soaked in the blood and the backseat of the SUV that drove him to the hospital looked like a scene from a horror movie. He felt faint by the time he arrived at the hospital, but did not lose consciousness. He lost more than a liter of blood, doctors later told him.
"At first, I was scared because there was blood everywhere, but I was trying not to concentrate on that," Padilla said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. At the hospital they told me I was going to be OK, and that's when I started to feel better. I thank God that it just went right through."
The Dodgers are almost certainly thankful, too. Last month, the club agreed to a one-year deal with Padilla worth $5.025 million -- a $4.025 million base salary and $1 million signing bonus. Last year, Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts for the Dodgers during the regular season after the Rangers released him.
"It was pretty serious," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "We're very lucky, first physically for him to get through that and for the fact we're able to get him back. He opened a lot of eyes here and made a spot for himself."
Padilla won his postseason debut by holding the Cardinals scoreless over seven innings in the National League Division Series and dueled Pedro Martinez for 7 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. In Game 5 of the NLCS, he allowed six runs in three innings.
"He had a positive experience here," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "Whatever happened in the past, happened. He worked hard, he pitched great, and he didn't cause a ripple whatsoever. He pitched big games and he competed at the highest level."
During the regular season in 2009, Padilla was a combined 12-6 with a 4.46 ERA.
"I'm very happy to be back here," Padilla said. "I'm comfortable with this team. I'm looking forward to a full season."
Padilla was also happy to finally set the record straight about the shooting accident. Initial reports said the pitcher was shot while hunting. He also heard other wild rumors about the accident.
"Hunting? How can I shoot my leg hunting? That doesn't make sense," Padilla said.
Asked how he could get shot in the leg at a target range, the pitcher responded: "It's one of those things that can happen."
The Dodgers do not seem worried.
"I waited until after the hunting season to begin negotiations," Colletti joked.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.