Torre tabs RHP Lowe to start Dodgers' playoff opener

Updated: September 28, 2008, 3:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- Joe Torre's announcement hardly came as a surprise: right-hander Derek Lowe will start Game 1 of the NL division series for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lowe will be followed by righty and 16-game winner Chad Billingsley in Game 2 and then right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 9-10 record. Torre, speaking before the NL West champions' game Saturday night at San Francisco, said he hadn't decided whether Lowe would come back on short rest for a potential fourth game. He will determine that based on how the series is going, though Greg Maddux could wind up a candidate.

"A lot of those decisions are made as the series goes on," said Torre, who plans to carry 11 pitchers. "It also depends who we use."

Mad Dog pitched Saturday night in the Giants' waterfront ballpark, scattering two hits and limiting the Giants to one run over six innings for the win.

When asked whether the 2-1 victory might be the last game for Maddux (8-13), Torre said, "I hope not."

Torre must decide who among the Dodgers' 40-man roster to include for the postseason, and Maddux isn't guaranteed a spot.

"I like to think I'm loyal to my players, but when it comes down to something as immediate as the postseason, I'm more loyal to the 25," said Torre, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Torre talked to rookie starter Clayton Kershaw (5-5) about his role, which will be out of the bullpen to give the Dodgers at least two innings of relief.

"To me, when you're going to be used as a starter coming out of the bullpen you try to make it as similar as possible to what they're used to," Torre said.

Decisions on some of the bullpen spots might be made once the Dodgers know who they're playing -- the Chicago Cubs or Philadelphia Phillies. The opponent potentially could be determined as late as Monday if a tiebreaker is needed to determine the wild-card team.

As far as the roster, Torre appears ready to have Jeff Kent on it. Kent was activated from the 15-day disabled list Sept. 20 -- less than three weeks after the 40-year-old second baseman underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

Kent, who was batting .279 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs entering Saturday's game, came out of the Dodgers' 9-3 loss at Arizona on Aug. 29 when his knee locked, and he underwent surgery four days later.

He was in the lineup at first base Saturday and Torre didn't rule out using him in the infield sometime during the playoffs, but a pinch-hitting role might be more realistic considering the knee is still healing.

"Right now I'm pretty comfortable with what I've seen from Jeff Kent," Torre said. "The start of the season, I anticipated he was going to go rehab somewhere and he goes out opening day and hits a home run. He knows his body better than I do. He's a pretty remarkable specimen."

Torre said shortstop Rafael Furcal, activated from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday night after being sidelined since May 6 with back problems, was a "thumbs up." Torre also appears to be leaning toward having Furcal on the roster at some point during the postseason.

"There are a lot of advantages to having him available," the skipper said, noting he likely wouldn't start Kent and Furcal in the same game. "Raffy's got a long career ahead of him. I told him several times there's nothing worth jeopardizing his career."

Aside from the few extra players Torre will keep around and available during the first round in case of injury, others who might be added in later rounds if Los Angeles advances might be sent to instructional league to stay sharp.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.