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Wolf gets the No. 2 spot ahead of Schmidt, Penny

March 02, 2007|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

KISSIMMEE, FLA. — Discussions over whether Jason Schmidt or Brad Penny is more deserving to occupy the No. 2 spot in the starting rotation behind Derek Lowe can cease, as least temporarily.

It's going to be Randy Wolf.

The left-hander about to begin his first season with the Dodgers is scheduled to start the second game of the season at Milwaukee on April 3. The rotation hasn't been announced by Manager Grady Little, but the order of the first four starters was confirmed by two highly placed sources.

Schmidt would start the third game, putting him on schedule to start the home opener April 9 against the Colorado Rockies. Penny would make his first start in the opener of a three-game series at San Francisco, then start at home against the Rockies, against whom he was 5-1 last season.

Because they have an off day April 5, the Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until the ninth game of the season. Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Chad Billingsley and Hong-Chih Kuo are the primary competitors for that role.

Wolf has allowed a batting average of only .191 at Miller Park in Milwaukee the last three years. His second start would come against the Giants, against whom he has a 2.84 earned-run average the last three years.

Going with Schmidt in the No. 3 slot means he would not start against the Giants during his first trip back to San Francisco. The right-hander was the Giants' top starter the last 5 1/2 years before leaving via free agency and signing a three-year, $47-million contract with the Dodgers.

The rotation could be reshuffled after a second off day April 12.

Not needing a fifth starter for more than a week increases the possibility that the Dodgers would break camp with 11 pitchers instead of 12, enabling them to carry a 14th position player. First baseman-outfielder James Loney and power-hitting outfielder Matt Kemp would be the most likely candidates.

steve.henson@latimes.com

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