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Black, Padres mulling upcoming rotation order

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SAN DIEGO -- With two off-days coming up on Monday and Thursday this week and Ian Kennedy's earlier minor oblique injury complicating things, Padres manager Bud Black is still unsure as to how his team's rotation will shake out after they complete their two-game series against the Twins.

Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne are set to start on Tuesday and Wednesday in Minnesota, and Black could choose to skip over Eric Stults (4.94 ERA) in favor of Kennedy for Friday's opener against Pittsburgh.

But Black likes the way Stults has looked in his last two starts, and noted Kennedy's reluctance to let loose on his fastball in his first start back from a mild oblique strain on Saturday. Black will evaluate his options after Kennedy throws a side session while the team is in Minnesota.

"We'll look through when we get to Minnesota … whether Ian needs another day or two based on his side session [in between starts]," Black said. "He'll throw a side in Minnesota and we'll gauge where he is. We'll see where him and Tyson [Ross] and Stultzie line up when we get to Minnesota and see how that relates to the Pittsburgh series."

Black also said that with the bullpen slightly taxed after Saturday's 12-inning win, Despaigne would be available for relief work on Sunday. If Despaigne has to be called on, that could add another wrinkle to the situation -- though Black is confident Despaigne could still make his start as scheduled if he only has to throw an inning or two.

"Despaigne has a rubber arm," Black said. "Our bullpen's been used a little bit the last week, there are some fellas that have had quite a bit of usage."

Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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