It’s a done deal. Justin Germano is the Padres number three starter. There’s not a chance in hell of Clay Hensley getting his old job back.

David Wells’ job; now that’s another thing entirely. Hensley might get that job. Maybe. If Hensley purrs along in his minor league rehab, and if Wells has a shaky outing or two, I’m sure the Padres can find a corn on the side of Wells’ foot, which will buy him 15 days on the disabled list. If and if, problem solved.

If Wells pitches well, then the club has the welcome actuality of six good starters. Or, if Hensley’s comeback is slowed by injury or ineffectiveness, the can gets kicked down the road a spell.

Anyway, Germano has made himself at home in the bigs. With the innings he’s eating, and the strikes he’s throwing, Germano is fitting right in with Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Greg Maddux. And when manager Bud Black talks about Germano picking up in the majors where he left off in the minors, he’s about as right on as can be. If only it were that simple for pitchers generally. Of course, most pitchers don’t get promoted and immediately begin tossing low-hit, low-walk, eye-popping outings, one right after another. Germano has.

Meanwhile, while the Dodgers were getting their butts kicked three straight in Anaheim, San Diego took two of three in Seattle over the weekend, to move to within a game of first place. L.A. faces National League Central leading Milwaukee the next three nights, and the Pads start a three-game set with the Cubs Tuesday. So it’s conceivable the Padres will be in first by Thursday, when the teams flip-flop opponents for three games. We’ll see.

Perhaps more importantly, the Padres kicked off 2007 interleague play by winning a series. It hasn’t always been so. San Diego was 7-8 last year, 7-11 in 2005, and 8-10 each of the previous three years. In the 10 seasons of interleague competition, the locals have had a winning record a grand total of one time. Yep, in 1998, when they finished 11-4 against the American League, and went on to win the pennant. An omen, perhaps.


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