Torre said Padilla would be followed in the first week of Cactus League play by Eric Stults, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda. Stults is out of options and if he doesn't make the rotation, he's likely to be lost to another club.
The regular season opens April 5 in Pittsburgh, and a fifth starter will be needed on April 11. If the rotation goes Kershaw, Billingsley, Kuroda and then Padilla, Kershaw would open in Pittsburgh and Billingsley would get the home opener April 12 against Arizona.
Padilla, who has recovered from an accidental gunshot wound, has thrown impressive bullpen sessions and done fielding drills without limitation. He went 4-0 after his stretch-run acquisition for the Dodgers last year, pitched well in his first two postseason starts, then suffered the loss when the Dodgers were eliminated in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series by Philadelphia.
Torre said the fifth starter will come from a large group that includes Stults, James McDonald, Charlie Haeger, Russ Ortiz, Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Monasterios. He said Scott Elbert would get innings as if he will be a starter.
Torre has not recently mentioned young right-hander Josh Lindblom among the candidates, and said on Thursday that he would prefer a veteran.
"With the younger guys, you'd like to err on the side of safety," he said. "We're going to try to get Elbert as many innings as a starter because we think that's the best thing to do."
Torre said the club has scheduled a "B" game against the Chicago White Sox for March 2.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.