ARNIE STAPLETON

The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Vicente Padilla returned to the National League when the Los Angeles Dodgers purchased his contract from Triple-A Albuquerque and sent him to the mound for Thursday's series finale against Colorado.

To make room for the right-hander, the Dodgers optioned infielder Tony Abreu to Albuquerque and moved Jason Schmidt, who had shoulder surgery earlier this month, from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.

Padilla, who played in Arizona and Philadelphia before getting traded to the Rangers in 2005, signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on Aug. 19 after he was released by Texas, where he was 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts this year.

He angered the Rangers this season by throwing at hitters and was designated for assignment on Aug. 7.

In going back to the NL, 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.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre was eager to see if Padilla could help L.A. down the stretch, especially with the uncertainty surrounding right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who went on the disabled list after being hit in the head by a line drive Aug. 15.

Kuroda will pitch a couple innings in a simulated game Saturday without a screen and with hitters in the batting box who won't swing, Torre said.

As for Padilla, Torre said the 31-year-old right-hander has to show not only good pitching but good behavior.

"It's throwing strikes and being able to win ballgames. That's what it's going to come down to - without any distractions," Torre said.

Padilla likely will start again at Arizona on Tuesday night. Torre added: "He's still a young man. He's got a good arm. He knows how to pitch and he's had success in the past. So, I don't think he's start-to-start."

The Dodgers only owe Padilla a prorated portion of the minimum salary for the rest of the season, which comes to about $100,000. The Rangers are paying the remainder of his $12 million salary this season.