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Dodgers to name opening-day starter this week

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said Thursday that he'll soon announce the starting pitcher for the team's opening game of the season, April 5 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

"We'll announce that this week, on who's going to pitch opening day," Torre said before a game with the Chicago Cubs at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch spring-training complex.

The four contenders in the Dodgers' starting rotation are left-hander Clayton Kershaw and right-handers Chad Billingsley, Vicente Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda, who started opening day last year.

Torre said Kershaw, who turns 22 on Friday, has "come along steadily" and that "he continues to move forward" after he went 8-8 last season with a 2.79 earned-run average.

Billingsley, meanwhile, was scheduled to start Thursday's game against the Cubs, and Torre said he hoped to see him use fewer pitches to get outs and "not run the pitch count up as much as he did his last outing."

"It’s not that he’s wild," he said of Billingsley. "He just tries to make too perfect a pitch. So I’d like to see him probably go a little bit deeper with fewer pitches.”

-- Jim Peltz in Phoenix 

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