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Notes: Ledezma to start on Friday

Notes: Ledezma to start on Friday

ST. LOUIS -- Of the three trades the Padres made before July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline, trading for left-handed pitcher Wil Ledezma was probably received with the least amount of fanfare.

But that trade might well have the most upside for the Padres, who will get their first look at the 26-year-old Ledezma as a starting pitcher on Friday in Cincinnati against the Reds.

The Padres -- who envision Ledezma as a candidate for the starting rotation in 2008 -- are excited to see what he can do in a start that will only likely take him through 70 pitches at the maximum.

"I think our scouts felt that at 26 years old, that he is coming into prime of his pitching career," Padres manager Bud Black said. "That's what we're hoping for."

The Padres have been encouraged by Ledezma's two relief outings since he was picked up from the Braves for reliever Royce Ring.

Ledezma struck out one in a scoreless inning against Arizona on Aug. 2. Then on Aug. 4, he allowed two hits and struck out three in two innings against the Giants.

"I'm very excited, because I like to start," Ledezma said Thursday. "I'm going to do the best I can so that I can keep starting."

Clay Hensley might have something to do with that. While Ledezma is taking the spot in the rotation for veteran David Wells -- who, as expected, was designated for assignment Thursday -- Hensley might well slide into that spot when he's next recalled from Triple-A Portland.

For now, though, the Padres are anxious to see what Ledezma can do. Since he's been in the bullpen, he won't likely go beyond 70 pitches because he's not sufficiently stretched out as a starter yet.

"I've seen Wilfredo in the American League and liked his arm," Black said. "That hasn't changed now. Low 90s, touches mid-90s, hard slider and a good-looking changeup. He's got the arm. He has ingredients to be a starter, a nice three-pitch mix of stuff. He's potentially a guy who has upside."

Wells cut: The Padres designated Wells to make room on the 25-man roster for Chris Young, who was activated from the disabled list.

Wells, 44, was informed after Tuesday's game that he wouldn't be making his next turn in the rotation on Saturday in Cincinnati by general manager Kevin Towers and Black.

Wells, who left early on Wednesday morning, is said to still be mulling over the decision to keep playing or retiring, according to his agent, Gregg Clifton.

Wells allowed seven runs in the fifth inning of Monday's loss to the Cardinals in his last game with the Padres.

In 22 starts this season for San Diego, Wells was 5-8 with a 5.54 ERA. Wells allowed 26 earned runs over his last four starts spanning 16 2/3 innings.

Over 21 Major League seasons, Wells has a 235-156 record with a career ERA of 4.12.

Black said Thursday that Milton Bradley could be back in San Diego's starting lineup in the next "two or three days," according to Black, as his right hamstring continues to improve.

Black was encouraged by the reports he received Thursday from Bradley's workout with strength and conditioning coach Jim Malone.

Malone put Bradley though several exercises on the field hours before Thursday's game.

"He went through some agility drills today, ran a little bit. Hopefully he'll be in there two to three days," Black said of Bradley. "He's gradually building up what he's trying to do -- side to side, backwards, shifting, putting all the appropriate stresses on the hamstring.

"He's gaining on it, but he still feels it. He's feeling better every day."

Bradley's hamstring felt good enough to pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Wednesday, his first appearance since last Friday at PETCO Park against the Giants. He had injured his hamstring on Aug. 2.

The question for the Padres is will they give him the three-game series in Cincinnati off with the off-day on Monday serving as additional rest or play him before then.

Upcoming move: The Padres will be without the services of relief pitcher Doug Brocail for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days starting Friday as he will be placed on the bereavement list for unspecified reasons.

The Padres will likely recall 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Jack Cassel from Triple-A Portland to take Brocail's place.

Cassel, who was Portland's lone representative in the Triple-A All-Star Game, had a 7-11 record with a 3.54 ERA for the Beavers in 24 games (21 starts).

Cassel has allowed 173 hits in 139 2/3 innings for the Beavers and hasn't won a game in his last seven starts. Opponents are batting .305 against Cassel, who is the older brother of former USC and now New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.

Friar notes: The Padres announced their Minor League players of the month for July on Thursday. Second baseman Matt Antonelli, who has played with Single-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, was named the player of the month. Right-handed pitcher Matt Buschmann of Lake Elsinore was named the pitcher of the month. .... Black used Scott Hairston in the leadoff spot on Thursday with Geoff Blum hitting second in the order. Blum started at shortstop of Khalil Greene, who was getting a planned day off. ... Outfielder Brian Giles wasn't in the lineup on Thursday. Giles the first three games against St. Louis, but came out early each game as his right ankle tends to swell on him. "He'll rest tonight," Black said. "This will be good for him to get off his feet." ... Shea Hillenbrand, who was signed to the Minor League contract on July 27, was released by the Padres. Hillenbrand, a two-time All-Star, was hitting .143 in nine games for Triple-A Portland.

On deck: The Padres will open a three-game series at 5:10 p.m. PT on Friday in Cincinnati. Ledezma (0-2, 5.84) will make his Padres debut as a starting pitcher. The Reds will counter with Matt Belisle (6-8, 5.26).

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

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