PHOENIX -- Vicente Padilla, released just seven months ago by the Rangers, was named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter on Thursday by manager Joe Torre. Padilla will start on April 5 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and be followed in the rotation by Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and an as-yet-unnamed fifth starter who the Dodgers will need on the first Saturday of the season in Florida. Torre said that Padilla's selection demonstrates that the Dodgers, while lacking a true ace, have four quality starting pitchers.
"We just had to pick somebody, and he was the one," Torre said. "Am I saying he's better than the other guys? I'm not saying that. We decided to line them up that way -- the fact that we don't have a No. 1, we have four guys who have pitched important games for us." Factoring in off-days, Kershaw is lined up to start the home opener at Dodger Stadium on April 13 against Arizona. "Clayton is fine with me," Torre said of his home-opening starter. "Billingsley, we want to get his legs under him. We don't want him to think the first start is more important than the others. We all know what he's capable of and done in the past. He's healthy and going in the right direction. Kuroda is a stabilizer. Last night [one hit in 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday], that was him. We've come to expect that every time he takes the mound." The selection of Padilla surprised, among others, Padilla, and it served as evidence of his resurrected career. Padilla, 32, was picked up by the Dodgers for the final two months of last season after wearing out his welcome with the Rangers. "I'm very excited -- I wasn't expecting to pitch the first game," said Padilla. "When I left Texas and pitched well the last two months with the Dodgers, I was expecting to be the third or fourth starting pitcher. This is something really big for me. Any starting pitcher dreams to be the starting pitcher for Opening Day, so, for me as well, it's a great honor and a great opportunity."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.