As Dodgers manager Joe Torre was saying here in the desert Thursday morning, somebody has to start in Pittsburgh on April 5.
Think I'm being sarcastic here? I'm not.
"We just had to pick someone, and he's the one," Torre said. "Am I saying he's better than the other guys? I can't do that. We decided to line them up that way.
"The fact is, we don't have a No. 1. We have four guys who have pitched important games for us."
That pretty much says it all. The Dodgers are waiting for Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw to step up. Each has No. 1 stuff. But both are still maturing and growing. Padilla will be followed in the rotation by Kershaw, then Billingsley, and then Hiroki Kuroda.
The Dodgers' fifth starter remains unnamed. Veteran Russ Ortiz has moved into position to win that job over the final 10 days or so of the spring. Journeyman Ramon Ortiz also is vying for the slot, as are knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, former Blue Jay Josh Towers, Justin Miller and Eric Sults.
As for Padilla, the Dodgers signed him as a minor-league free agent last August after the Rangers essentially booted him off the team. He went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA over eight games (seven starts) for the Dodgers down the stretch.
While he threw seven shutout innings against St. Louis in the playoffs last October, he was 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two NLCS starts against the Phillies.
Torre said that Padilla's playoff work factored into the decision some, but, basically, "we have four guys and you can put their name in a hat."
Sunblock Day? Rocking now in Arizona: High 70s, 80s this weekend.
Likes: Phil Hughes as the Yankees fifth starter. Vicente Padilla as the Dodgers opening day starter. Love the time in the spring when we're close enough to Opening Day that decisions start rolling in. ... Doug Mientkiewicz's grit. The veteran is in Dodgers' camp trying to win a job. His shoulder is much better following last year's surgery. Don't know if he's going to make it in LA, but maybe somewhere. ... Dodger legend Don Newcombe addressing the team before Thursday's practice. ... The bunting contest the Giants had scheduled for Thursday morning, a handful of pitchers vs. a handful of position players. ... Tina Fey on David Letterman Wednesday night. Date Night looks like it's got possibilities. ... Four more days of NCAA tourney action. Go Butler, go Michigan State and go Cornell.
Dislikes: Glad to see baseball remove the silly off day from the middle of the League Championship Series, which probably will force teams to use four starters throughout (as opposed to the way the Yankees were able to take advantage of off days and breeze through the entire postseason with just three starting pitchers last fall). But there's still too much time between the LCS and World Series, and this does nothing to move the World Series up and prevent it from being played in November. A very inauspicious start by Commissioner Bud Selig's special committee for on-field matters. ... Dwight Gooden's ongoing saga. Driving under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, and all with a child in the car. That's pathetic. ... The fact that in this blog the other day I referred to the movie Ghost Writer as Ghost Rider. I know it's Ghost Writer. As in, someone who writes a book for someone else in that someone else's voice. Ugh. Obviously I need more spring training. Still not quite in mid-season form.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I still love Tom Petty songs
"And driving old men crazy"
-- Gaslight Anthem, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues