Padres move Ledezma into rotation

Padres move Ledezma into rotation

ATLANTA -- The Padres have announced that left-handed pitcher Wil Ledezma will make a start on Thursday against the Braves, though manager Bud Black said that it does not mean Ledezma has inherited the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

"He'll start Thursday, and when we come to next Tuesday, [the next time the fifth starter is scheduled to pitch] ... we'll address that over the weekend."

The Padres decided to replace Germano (0-3, 6.35 ERA) with Ledezma (0-0, 1.96) after Germano allowed 21 earned runs in his past three starts. Ledezma was considered to be the best in-house option as he's pitched well in long relief this season.

And, as Black said, there was the fact that the Braves are hitting .215 this season against southpaws. The Braves had four left-handed hitters in their lineup on Tuesday, as well as two switch-hitters -- Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira.

Teixeira is hitting just .182 against southpaws, while the red-hot Jones is hitting .400 -- which is below his average (.435) against right-handers.

"I thought it was time to have Justin take a step back," Black said. "With that, it coincides with giving Wilfredo this opportunity to throw against the Braves and turn some of those switch-hitters around to the other side.

"Wilfredo has thrown the ball well all year. I don't think his latest outing was indicative of how he's thrown all season. I think it might have a dual benefit of giving Germano a little breather, and getting Wilfredo a spot start to see if he can hold down the Braves."

Ledezma allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief in Sunday's 10-3 loss to the Marlins. He has only allowed four earned runs this season, and opponents are hitting just .227 against him.

Germano started the season with 13 scoreless innings, but he allowed 10 runs in a start on April 21 in Houston and then six runs in five innings against Arizona on April 26. Then on Friday in Florida, Germano allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings, including three home runs.

"I thought he threw the ball very well his first three starts, the last three have probably not been what we saw in the first three," Black said of Germano.

In that start on Friday, Germano allowed two runs over the first five innings, but then gave up a three-run home run to Dan Uggla followed by a solo home run to Luis Gonzalez.

"The last game, I felt like I threw the ball well. I had that one pitch -- [Uggla's home run]," Germano said. "If Uggla pops that ball up, it's a different story. I felt like I had gotten back on track."

Germano, for the time being, will assume Ledezma's role as a long reliever with Glendon Rusch.

"I don't think there's one thing that I'm going to work on in the bullpen," Germano said. "I've just got to get my work in, just make my pitches. I don't think there's one thing that has caused this setback. I just need to get the consistency going."

If the Padres don't like what they see in Ledezma on Thursday, they could add veteran left-hander Shawn Estes, who is 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA with Triple-A Portland.

Estes has an opt-out clause in his contract, and he could ask to be released if he's not on the Padres' roster by May 15. Estes told the North County Times that he'll "more than likely exercise [the option]" if his contract isn't purchased by the Padres.

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