Padres tab Garland for Opening Day
Young, Correia locked in behind free-agent acquisition
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres announced their starting rotation Sunday -- well, most of it anyway.Manager Bud Black said that Jon Garland, a free-agent acquisition in the offseason, will start Opening Day in Arizona on April 5. He will be followed by Chris Young and Kevin Correia, who will also pitch in the season-opening series at Chase Field. "We just feel pretty good about these three guys," Black said. That would, in all likelihood, mean Young would start the home opener on April 12 against the Braves at PETCO Park. Black wouldn't name the Nos. 4 and 5 starters for the rotation just yet. That information will come sometime this week as the organization continues to sort through what it will do about three pitchers in camp who are out of Minor League options. It's believed that left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard will be the No. 4 starter. Mat Latos, whom several scouts have said this spring is the Padres' best pitcher, figures to earn the No. 5 spot in the rotation. But for starters, it will be Garland, who is getting his first Opening Day start in a 10-year career in which he has played for four different teams. "It's a big honor, especially being my first year with the team," Garland said. "C.Y. was an All-Star. Kevin had a great year last year for them. They are definitely deserving." Garland has a 6.39 ERA in four games this spring, though he pitched well in his last start Friday at Maryvale Baseball Park against the Brewers. He allowed two runs on three hits in five innings with no walks and four strikeouts.
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He recently missed a start when he suffered lack of strength in his shoulder, something he had felt at points in his career before. But he felt fine in his start Friday. Garland is set to start the final game of the Cactus League season Wednesday against Kansas City."We had the little setback, missing the one start, but after this last start, I feel great," he said. Garland said he was flattered by the words Black shared with him when he was pulled in the manager's office for the news. "He said, 'I like the way you go about your business ... and I want people to follow your lead.' It was sort of a pat on the back, for him to have that respect for me," Garland said. "He's been good to me ever since he was the pitching coach in Anaheim. Coming from a guy who was a pitcher himself, and a pretty good one, that feels good." Garland, who signed a $4.7 million contract in January with a mutual option for 2011 and a $600,000 buyout, is hoping to set a good example at the top of the rotation. "I've been on a pitching staff where one guy gets on the roll and the second guy gets on a roll and the third guy gets on a roll," he said. "When that happens, good things happen. That confidence builds." Black said that April matchups were part of the equation used in determining the order of the first three starters and that it wasn't an easy decision. Both Young and Correia, who led the team in victories (12) and innings (198) a year ago, have pitched well. As for the rest of the rotation -- and the rest of the entire pitching staff -- that remains a work in progress. Left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, who hasn't pitched since March 19 and has only been in two games because of a sore shoulder, had a cortisone shot Saturday. Black said he could be a candidate to start the season on the disabled list, though no determination has been made yet. If Thatcher does start the season on the disabled list, the Padres then could keep all three of the pitchers in camp who are out of Minor League options -- Sean Gallagher, Edward Mujica and Tim Stauffer. Gallagher and Mujica have likely already earned spots on the team. Stauffer is a player who has attracted interest from other teams looking to add starting pitching in the final week of Spring Training. He's been good this spring, posting a 2.57 ERA in five games with an 11:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Stauffer said Saturday that he's comfortable coming out of the bullpen, which might be the likely case if the Padres don't deal him.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.