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02/22/11 2:37 PM EST

Padres in no hurry to name opener starter

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Dodgers have named their Opening Day starter.

San Diego manager Bud Black said Tuesday that he's not quite ready to take that leap yet -- even though the nod figures to go to 22-year-old Mat Latos, who last season was the Padres' most dominant starter.

The Padres open the regular season on March 31 in St. Louis, and Latos -- who was 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA last season -- appears the obvious choice, although left-hander Clayton Richard won 14 games as well.

What does Black consider when picking a starter for Opening Day?

"It's a feather in the cap for past performance ... being 'the guy,'" Black said.

Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly recently named left-hander Clayton Kershaw as his Opening Day starter.

Black, however, doesn't see the need to do so at this point in Spring Training, five days before the Padres face the Mariners in their annual charity game in Peoria.

"It's only Feb. 22," Black said, smiling.

The Padres open the season in St. Louis on March 31 and then have a day off before the series resumes on April 2.

All told, and as part of a quirky schedule, the Padres will have three off-days in the first eight days of the regular season.

Black did confirm that the pitcher who starts the opener in St. Louis won't start the home opener at PETCO Park against the Giants on April 5.

A year ago, Black didn't announce his Opening Day starter until the last week of camp when he named Jon Garland to start the opener in Arizona. Chris Young, who was the other leading candidate, started the second game of the season.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.