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Vicente Padilla turns into Dodgers' ace

He is picked to be the Game 5 starter and Clayton Kershaw will pitch Game 6, if there is a Game 6.

October 20, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHILADELPHIA — With their season on the line, the Dodgers will send their $100,000 pitcher to the mound for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Manager Joe Torre announced on Monday that Vicente Padilla would be moved ahead of Clayton Kershaw in the rotation and start the Dodgers' next game, which will be played on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Signed by the Dodgers in August for a prorated share of the major league minimum, Padilla has allowed only one run in 14 1/3 innings over his two starts this postseason. He started Game 2 of this series and held the Phillies to a run and four hits over 7 1/3 innings.

"You don't know how long the stretch can last," Torre said.

Kershaw pitched four shutout innings in Game 1, only to fall apart in a five-run fifth inning for the Phillies.

General Manager Ned Colletti admitted that he never expected Padilla to do what he has, emerging as the Dodgers' ace at the most crucial time of the season.

"He could be anybody's ace right now," Colletti said. "He's pitched as well as anybody in baseball the last month."


Kershaw looking forward

Before Torre announced his intention to start Padilla in Game 5, Kershaw said he found it curious that so many questions were being asked about the Dodgers' rotation.

"You guys are making a real big deal out of this," said Kershaw, who is expected to start Game 6 -- if there is a Game 6 -- on Friday.

Kershaw said he wasn't spending too much time thinking about the way he pitched in the opening game of the series.

"I don't want to over-analyze it," Kershaw said. "I pitched four good innings. It comes down to making adjustments quicker."


Lineup change

Torre moved Matt Kemp into the second spot in the order, thinking that by batting him in front of Andre Ethier, he might be able to get him better pitches to hit.

In the first three games of the NLCS, Kemp was three for 12 with four strikeouts and no extra-base hits.

"I think he just lost his feel right now," Torre said. "He needs to stay in the middle of the field."


Looking overseas

Assistant General Manager Logan White was among the major league club officials who met on Monday with Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old left-hander widely regarded as Japan's top amateur talent.

While there are no rules prohibiting the Dodgers from signing Kikuchi, they are mindful that doing so could harm the club's long-standing ties in Japan. When top amateur Junichi Tazawa was controversially poached by the Boston Red Sox last year, the Japanese league created a rule stipulating that any amateur who bypassed the domestic draft and signed overseas would not be allowed to play in Japan for two to three years.


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