Dodgers activate Vicente Padilla

CHICAGO -- As expected, the Los Angeles Dodgers activated veteran right-hander Vicente Padilla from the 15-day disabled list for the first time this season before Friday's game with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Padilla, who had been sidelined since undergoing surgery in February to free a nerve trapped under a muscle in his right forearm, made two rehabilitation appearances this week at Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

Because the Dodgers have five established starters and because Padilla's injury prevented him from building up innings in spring training, he will be going to the bullpen on a full-time basis for the first time since 2001, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. Since then, Padilla has made just one relief appearance, pitching two shutout innings for the Dodgers on Sept. 30, 2009, at San Diego.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said there are no restrictions on Padilla, other than that he would prefer to use Padilla to begin an inning.

Mattingly also said that because Padilla has been a starter for the past nine seasons, there will be some trial and error as Padilla figures out how quickly he can get adequately warmed up in the bullpen before entering a game.

Padilla went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 starts for the Dodgers last season, missing almost two months early in the season with the forearm injury that eventually led to surgery two months ago. He also missed two weeks late in the season with a bulging disk in his neck.

To clear a roster spot for Padilla, the Dodgers optioned reliever Ramon Troncoso to Triple-A Albuquerque immediately after Thursday's 12-inning win over the Atlanta Braves.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.