Kuroda selected to start Opening Day
Billingsley in line to take mound for Dodgers' home opener
PHOENIX -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre on Wednesday named Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to start Opening Day on April 6 against the Padres in San Diego.
Kuroda will be followed in the rotation by Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and "the mystery person," said Torre, referring to the fifth starter to be named. That alignment will alternate between right-handers and left-handers over the first four games.
Torre confirmed his decision after watching Billingsley pitch five innings in a Minor League intrasquad game at Camelback Ranch-Glendale on a day when the rest of his team -- except for catcher A.J. Ellis -- was given the day off.
The way Torre has set up the rotation, Billingsley will pitch the Dodgers' home opener April 13 against San Francisco.
Kuroda went 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA and two shutouts last year after signing a three-year, $35.3 million free-agent contract after pitching for a decade in Japan. He spent one short stint on the disabled list with a tender shoulder, but came on strong in the second half as he adjusted to the demands of pitching every five days.
He was clearly the club's best starter in the postseason. He won the clinching Game 3 in the National League Division Series over the Cubs and had the Dodgers' lone victory over the Phillies in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series, allowing two runs over 12 1/3 postseason innings.
Kuroda was 2-1 against the Padres last year, which included his Major League debut, a victory while allowing one run over seven innings.
"We're comfortable with that," Torre said of Kuroda's poise in a big-game atmosphere. "He's had more experience at a high level. In the second half of the year, Kuroda pitched in important games and he was certainly impressive."
Billingsley pitched five innings against some of the Dodgers' top-hitting Minor Leaguers, allowing three runs, two on a homer by infield prospect Austin Gallagher. Billingsley made 76 pitches, allowing five hits and striking out five with a walk and a hit batter.
"It was a great work day," said Billingsley. "I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. I threw a lot of changeups in every count. Those guys came out hacking first pitch every inning. Anything around the zone they were swinging. I finished up throwing only fastballs the last inning."
Among the turnout for the intrasquad game was Hall of Fame pitcher and Torre's former Cardinals teammate, Bob Gibson, whose son, Chris, is an outfielder in the Dodgers system.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.