PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) San Diego Padres right-hander Tyson Ross has more than a month to prepare for his opening-day start against the defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers April 4 at Petco Park.
New manager Andy Green announced the decision Friday morning before pitchers and catchers went through their first workout.
''Tyson is ready and eager to take that ball on Day One, and we're excited to have him as our ace,'' Green said. ''It's definitely an affirmation of who Tyson is and a belief in him and where he's headed. I think it's just the right choice as an organization.''
Ross was 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA and 212 strikeouts and 84 walks in 196 innings last year. He's entering his fourth season with the Padres.
Former manager Bud Black would usually wait until toward the end spring training to announce his opening-day starter.
''I think in some regards, people look at the camp we're running here and think, `Hey, everything's open for grabs,' `' said Green, who inherits a team that underwhelmed after a dramatic makeover the previous offseason. ''When there's decisions to be made we're not afraid to go out and make them, and we'll make those decisions at the time we think is most appropriate. In setting our rotation going into camp, we've got three guys at the top of the rotation we feel very good about.''
Green said James Shields will be the No. 2 starter and Andrew Cashner No. 3, with the final two spots to be determined.
Shields was last year's opening day starter after signing a $75 million, four-year contract as a free agent, and Ross was No. 2. Shields went 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA last year.
Ross said it caught him off-guard when pitching coach Darren Balsley told him the news
''It's a true honor to be named opening day starter. I'm looking forward to not only taking it on the first day, but getting the ball rolling for the whole team,'' Ross said. ''We've got a new coaching staff and it's kind of a new culture we're trying to create here and I'm looking forward to taking that first step.''
Ross said being picked for the honor more than a month out doesn't change anything.
''I come out here every day and put in the work. It's all about the process and just one day at a time,'' he said. ''I may start the first game, but the second day, that's the most important person out there. Once we get into the rotation, whoever we send out there, it's going to be their day to shine. We've got some talented pitchers on this team. It's going to be a lot of fun.''
Catcher Derek Norris said Ross showed impressive command during his session off the mound Friday.
''I would have taken what he did today, in three weeks,'' Norris said. ''He was tremendous today. His location with all his pitches, not spinning any breaking balls yet, but he's got a little better feel for his change, which he didn't use a lot last year. His command with his fastball today was incredible. I literally walked up to him and said, `Look, I've got nothing to say. That was excellent. As much as you love to hear me talk and communicate, I've got nothing for you.' He was great.
''I know it's something he wanted to make emphasis on this offseason and it already shows in freaking Day One,'' Norris said. ''You look for that in week two and three. For him to come out and have that kind of command was incredible. It was a great first day.''
Ross was a second-round pick of his hometown Oakland Athletics out of California in the 2008 draft. He went 6-18 with a 5.33 ERA in parts of three seasons with the A's before being traded to San Diego on Nov. 16, 2012. He's gone 26-34 with a 3.07 ERA in three seasons with San Diego. He was an All-Star in 2014, when he finished 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA.
Overall, he's 32-52 with a 3.57 ERA.