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Luebke gaining confidence with variety of pitches

It was quite an eventful offseason for Padres starter Cory Luebke, who signed a contract extension with San Diego through the 2015 season with club options for '16 and '17, the deal guaranteeing him $12 million.

The left-hander will get his first chance to prove the Padres made the right decision when he faces off against the Dodgers on Friday at Petco Park in the second game of the season.

Starting last season as a long reliever before moving into the rotation, Luebke impressed the Padres in allowing only 105 hits in 139 2/3 innings. He also struck out 154 and walked only 44.

"He's got good stuff, and he's got an assortment of pitches now that he can feel confident in to keep him progressing," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Luebke will face a tough challenger, though, in Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, who finished Spring Training pleased with his progress.

"I can attack with my fastball, the curve is my out pitch, and the changeup I can throw in any count and have a lot of confidence in that right now," Billingsley said. "I don't know if I'll throw the cutter, though -- the left side it just spins all the time."

Making slight alterations to his delivery during Spring Training, the right-hander will try to match the success he had against the Padres last season.

At his best against San Diego in two starts last year, Billingsley went 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA and held the team to a .186 batting average.

"I've talked about it with Chad, the consistency. The stuff is there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "If he's happy with his mechanics and most of his pitches and he's healthy, that's a good sign."

Dodgers: Mattingly says final goodbye to McCourt

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly spoke with outgoing owner Frank McCourt on Thursday for the first time since the announcement was made that the club and Dodger Stadium would be sold to Guggenheim Partners.

"It was just talking," Mattingly said. "He gave me the opportunity [to manage] when, really, a lot of people probably wouldn't have. I appreciate the confidence he had in me. I guess, in a sense, it was saying goodbye, knowing he's got things to do in the next month."

• Dodgers Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was removed from his Opening Day start Thursday in the fourth inning with the stomach flu. While he had the Dodgers' first hit in the game, Kershaw struggled with his fastball velocity, throwing 39 pitches, the fastest at 92 mph.

Padres: Sore elbow lands Stauffer on DL

Before the Padres opened the regular season against the Dodgers at Petco Park on Thursday, they placed Tim Stauffer on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow. Reliever Brad Brach was recalled to take Stauffer's place.

Stauffer was targeted to be the Padres' starting pitcher on Opening Day, but first complained about soreness in his elbow after a start on March 26 against the Cubs. Five days later, he allowed six earned runs in five innings against the Brewers, and his velocity was way down.

"We felt it was the right thing to do," Black said. "Our doctors think this thing will resolve itself with rest and therapy."

Worth Noting

• After Thursday's 5-3 win over the Padres, the Dodgers are now 28-27 in the first game of the season since moving to Los Angeles.

• There are eight players on the Dodgers' 2012 Opening Day Roster who weren't in the organization last year.

• Six Padres players made their first appearance on a Major League Opening Day roster Thursday, the oldest being left-fielder Jesus Guzman, who is 27. Comments