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03/21/11 10:30 PM ET

Baxter to have surgery on thumb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres Minor League outfielder Mike Baxter is slated to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, manager Bud Black said on Monday.

Baxter left Monday for San Diego, where the surgery is to be performed on Tuesday by Dr. Lorenzo Pacelli at the Scripps Clinic in Carmel Valley. Baxter will be out for at least eight weeks, Black added prior to the Padres' Cactus League game against the White Sox at Peoria Stadium.

Baxter suffered the injury to his thumb on Friday at Tempe Diablo Stadium as he attempted to make a diving catch on a ball hit by Alberto Callaspo of the Angels.

"Sometimes you go backhand side and the glove gets caught underneath you," Baxter said Saturday night. "It was sore, and when I came in this morning, it became swollen and tight."

Baxter missed Saturday's game against the Cubs in Peoria and instead had a scan of his thumb, as ordered by team physician and lead orthopedic surgeon Jan Fronek. He did not play on Sunday against the Mariners, either.

Baxter saw the team's hand specialist on Monday, who determined the extent of the ligament damage.

Baxter had a hit in the game on Friday after injuring the thumb and batted .370 in Cactus League play, with two home runs and four RBIs in 27 at-bats. Black said he's ticketed this season for Triple-A Tucson.

Latos is likeliest Opening Day candidate

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres manager Bud Black isn't quite ready to announce his Opening Day starter for March 31 against the Cardinals in St. Louis, but barring injuries, it's becoming increasingly obvious that it will be Mat Latos.

Black said he planned to make his decision official sometime within the next few days.

Latos, scheduled to start on Monday night against the White Sox at Peoria Stadium, is set to pitch in five days here against the Dodgers, five days before the Padres face the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Circumstantial evidence? You be the judge.

"At this point, you could draw the conclusion that [Latos] does set up," Black said before the game. "But things could change. We hope things stay consistent as far as health so we can stay in line as we are now."

Black said the real consideration was at least announcing the first four starters in his five-man rotation at the same time he reveals his Opening Day starter. The No. 4 starter would be pegged to pitch the home opener at PETCO Park against the defending World Series-champion Giants on April 5.

Clayton Richard and Tim Stauffer, both pegged for the rotation, have had injury setbacks during the spring.

"I'd like to announce the entire rotation at one time," Black said. "The last couple of weeks Stauffer [sore hip flexor] missed a start. Clayton [sore shoulder] had a slow start. I want to make sure everybody's set physically and mentally. As soon as I say Opening Day starter, the question is, who's pitching the second game?"

Right now, Black isn't sure.

Latos, 23, is beginning his second full Major League season. It would be his first Opening Day assignment. Last year, he was 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA, but was 13-3 with a 164 ERA in 22 starts from May 1 to Sept. 7 before fading toward the end.

Last year's Opening Day starter at Arizona was Jon Garland, who took the 6-3 loss. Garland is now with the Dodgers and has been out most of the spring, nursing a strained oblique.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.