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Baseball Notes: Dodgers give the nod to Padilla for opener

Vicente Padilla, the Los Angeles Dodgers righthander who lost Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to the Phillies last fall, has been named his team's opening-day starter. The Dodgers open April 5 in Pittsburgh.

Vicente Padilla, the Los Angeles Dodgers righthander who lost Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to the Phillies last fall, has been named his team's opening-day starter. The Dodgers open April 5 in Pittsburgh.

Padilla, who is going into his 11th major-league season, is getting one of baseball's traditional honors just five months after a gunshot wound to his leg nearly ended his career.

Padilla was injured Nov. 3 in his native Nicaragua while, he said, practicing with a handgun that jammed. He said a friend was trying to fix the problem when the gun accidentally fired, striking Padilla's upper right thigh. The bullet passed through the back of his leg.

After signing with the Dodgers late last season, he allowed just one earned run over 141/3 innings in his first two career playoff appearances before losing the NLCS Game 5 to the Phils.

Yankees. New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced yesterday that Phil Hughes had won the team's fifth-starter spot over Joba Chamberlain and three other candidates.

Hughes didn't have the best spring among the five pitchers, but he was much better than Chamberlain, who will slide into the key bullpen role he may be best suited for anyway.

Early yesterday, the Yankees released veteran Chad Gaudin. Two other fifth-starter candidates - Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre - will start the season in the bullpen. Hughes will start on three days' rest tonight against the Phillies.

Mariners. Pitcher Cliff Lee, who starred for the Phillies in the second half of last season and was traded to Seattle in the off-season in the deal that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, is struggling with his new team.

Lee said yesterday he still feels a strain in his abdominal muscle following his second short throwing session on flat ground in three days.

Asked if he could still feel the injury sustained March 15 in a collision behind the plate with Arizona catcher Chris Snyder, Lee said, "A little bit, yeah."

Each day Lee is not on a mound increases the likelihood Seattle's prized winter acquisition will be on the disabled list when the season begins April 5.

This is Lee's third abdominal strain in seven years. The previous two, in 2007 and '03, had him on the DL to begin those seasons for more than a month each time.

Brewers. Milwaukee released left-hander Scott Schoeneweis, who went to Lenape High in South Jersey and was in the Brewers camp on a minor league contract. The 36-year-old was 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in 45 relief appearances with Arizona last season. He's 46-57 with a 4.97 ERA in his 11-year major league career. His wife died from an overdose of cocaine and other drugs last May.

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