Perdomo paying it forward to Rule 5 players

Perdomo paying it forward to Rule 5 players

LOS ANGELES -- Luis Perdomo pitched on Opening Day at Petco Park last season, too.

The similarities end there.

A year ago, Perdomo was a wide-eyed Rule 5 rookie who had never pitched above Class A Advanced. Padres manager Andy Green threw him right into the fire, and Perdomo was grossly overmatched. In an inning-plus, he allowed six runs on six hits and a pair of walks.

A year later, Perdomo is the starter for the Padres' home opener. And, in Green's words, "he flat-out earned it."

Last May, Perdomo developed a sinker, and used the pitch to become an effective Major League pitcher. He led the National League with a 59 percent groundball rate, and by season's end, he was arguably the most reliable pitcher on the Padres' staff.

"Last year, I felt a lot more pressure," Perdomo said through a team interpreter, regarding his Opening Day mindset. "This year, I have more confidence, and I'm more relaxed because I know it's just the same game I've always played."

Despite his success toward the second half of last season, Perdomo was never guaranteed a rotation spot. He earned it this spring with a 2.41 ERA in five starts.

Technically, Perdomo is the fifth starter -- though the Padres' rotation isn't exactly top heavy. But Green noted that giving Perdomo the home opener was a bit of a reward for how far he's come in the past year.

"It's definitely a big source of pride for me," Perdomo said. "[Pitching the home opener] is a great opportunity, and it's something I'm really looking to take advantage of."

With three Rule 5 players on their roster, the club is holding Perdomo as an example of the path they'd like to see their current youngsters take. The Padres don't mind some early growing pains, so long as there are signs of development.

"He pitched really well in Spring Training, to earn that home opener," Green said. "For a guy that's come as far as he has, it's a great progressional path for our guys that are Rule 5 picks this year. You look at what he did on Opening Day last year and you look what he did by the end of the season -- that growth was at an unbelievable clip."

Much like they viewed a bright future for Perdomo, they think highly of their three Rule 5 players this year -- Miguel Diaz, Luis Torrens and Allen Cordoba.

To his credit, Perdomo is paying it forward.

"I've given them advice, I've spoken with them, I've been around them," Perdomo said. "I just tell them how things are up here and how to make that jump. And I also to let them know nothing is guaranteed. You do have to keep working hard over the course of the season."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.