Dodgers manager Joe Torre seems impressed by the Padres.
* The running game. "Bud Black was over there with the Angels, where he saw how that type of offense disrupts," Torre said before tonight's series opener. "So it's not really surprising to see it here. When you've got the personnel, you can play that type of game, and you certainly can manufacture runs."
* The bullpen. "They do a good job of coming out of there throwing strikes. They don't walk a lot of people, and they get a lot of groundballs. They've got some power arms down there. It's very important. You can't play the game without a bullpen anymore."
Torre seems to think the Padres are long for the playoff race -- what else is he going to say? -- but he said you only know after the fun stops.
"The key for them is, how are they going to handle their first slump? Because it's going to happen," he said.
Dodgers were hoping to have shortstop Rafael Furcal for this series, but Furcal reported that his balky hamstring isn't ready. "It's probably going to be a few days," Torre said. The Padres, meantime, activated their Furcal-like shortstop, Everth Cabrera, off the disabled list.
Trying to be a good guy and answer a question, Torre invoked his '96 Yankees when someone asked him about the dearth of hitters in San Diego's lineup. Torre said those Yankees weren't Bronx Bombers in the season's first half, and recalled that George Steinbrenner added Cecil Fielder and Darryl Strawberry for the bench. Both of those players would help the Yankees in the postseason, which culminated in a World Series championship.