Thursday, March 25, 2010
Dodgers choose Padilla for opener
By Tony Jackson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Vicente Padilla, pretty much the last guy anybody expected to get the nod, will be the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting pitcher for the club's season opener on April 5 at Pittsburgh.
Padilla, a veteran right-hander, will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda, meaning Kershaw will start the April 13 home opener against Arizona.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre offered little in the way of explanation for the surprise pick.
"We just had to pick somebody, and he was the one," Torre said. "Am I going to say he is better than the other guys? I can't do that. We just decided to line them up that way. ... Again, we have four guys where I think you can put their names in a hat and just take it out."
After the Dodgers signed him last Aug. 20, Padilla was arguably their best pitcher down the stretch, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3:1.
He was even better in his first two playoff starts, allowing a run on eight hits over 14 1/3 innings against St. Louis and Philadelphia before being torched for six runs in three innings in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
"That certainly was a part of it," Torre said. "But the fact that we don't have a No. 1 and we do have four guys who have pitched in important games for us, we just had to line them up some way, and we just decided to do it this way."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.