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Padilla to get opening day start for Dodgers

Posted: March 25, 2010 12:13 p.m.
Updated: March 25, 2010 12:29 p.m.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Vicente Padilla makes a pickoff throw to second as pitching coach Rick Honeycutt watches during baseball spring training practice Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz.

 
GLENDALE, Arizona (AP) - Vicente Padilla will be the starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they open the season April 5 at Pittsburgh.

Manager Joe Torre said Thursday that Padilla's performance in the playoffs last season helped land him the spot.

The right-hander allowed just one earned run over 14 1-3 innings in his first two career playoff appearances for the Dodgers before losing Game 5 of the NL championship series to Philadelphia.

"We just had to pick somebody and he was the one," Torre said. "Am I going to say he's better than the other guys? I can't do that. We just decided to line them up that way."

Padilla got a one-year deal worth more than $5 million with the Dodgers in January after being signed as a free agent late last season. He went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts, bolstering the NL West champions' inconsistent roster.

The Dodgers are off April 6. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will start April 7 against the Pirates, followed by right-hander Chad Billingsley, and right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on April 9 at Florida.

A fifth starter has yet to be named, and Torre said that won't happen until late next week.

"I have a pretty good idea what I want to do," he said, "but I think it's unfair if I don't just take in the rest of the information that we're going to have."

Kuroda started the opener last season. "He's a stabilizer for us," Torre said of Kuroda, who gave up one hit over 5 1-3 innings, struck out two and walked two in his most impressive outing of the spring Wednesday night against Oakland.

"Last night, that was him. That's something we've come to expect every time he takes the mound."

Kershaw will get the nod for the home opener on April 13 against Arizona. "The home opener in front of your home fans is probably equally as important even though it's not the first game of the year," Torre said.

The Dodgers are headed into another season without an ace on the staff, leaving Torre to mix and match as he sees fit.

"We have four guys that I think you can put their names in a hat and just take them out," he said.

Torre has yet to decide whether the team will carry 11 or 12 pitchers into the season.

Russell Martin, out since March 7 with a groin injury, was set to catch four innings in a minor league game on Thursday in Surprise, where Torre was going to watch. Martin took batting practice with the rest of the team in the morning.

"He's certainly far ahead of what was anticipated," the manager said. "I'm thrilled about that and I know he's feeling great."

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