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Lucchesi to pitch in Minors over All-Star break

Rookie left-hander is likely to rejoin Padres in second half
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- When rookie left-handers Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer arrived in San Diego this April, they did so well ahead of schedule. The Padres were always up-front about that fact.

If not for Dinelson Lamet's elbow injury on the final day of Spring Training, Lucchesi isn't in the Opening Day rotation. If not for Luis Perdomo's early struggles, Lauer doesn't earn a callup.

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SAN DIEGO -- When rookie left-handers Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer arrived in San Diego this April, they did so well ahead of schedule. The Padres were always up-front about that fact.

If not for Dinelson Lamet's elbow injury on the final day of Spring Training, Lucchesi isn't in the Opening Day rotation. If not for Luis Perdomo's early struggles, Lauer doesn't earn a callup.

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There are challenges that come with those early arrivals, the most glaring being the need to limit workloads on two pitchers drafted only two years ago. In that regard, the Padres plan to use the All-Star break to their advantage.

On Thursday, Lucchesi was optioned to Triple-A El Paso, a day after his final first-half start. It's not a performance-based move. The 25-year-old will almost certainly be recalled and merely pushed to the back off the rotation after the All-Star break.

"Our expectation right now is that he's going to go down and have a Minor League start between now and his next Major League start," Green said. "We had every anticipation of pushing our younger guys to the backside of the rotation coming out of the break, and he's one of those guys. He'll have every opportunity to be in New York pitching for us, assuming he goes through the next 10 days healthy."

Lucchesi's start in the Minors will likely be a shortened one, designed to "keep some rhythm with him and trying to find some rhythm in some instances," Green said.

After missing a month with a right hip strain, Lucchesi's workload has been limited by default. Things are different for Lauer, who has pitched 93 2/3 innings between Triple-A and the Majors this season. He's already just 29 innings shy of last season's total mark.

Video: LAD@SD: Lauer fans 8 over 8 2/3 superb innings

That said, Lauer has pitched so well lately that the Padres have been forced to alter their plans. Originally, the 23-year-old's start against the Dodgers on Tuesday was to be his last before the break -- giving him similar treatment to Lucchesi.

Then the lefty came within one out of recording the first shutout by a Padres rookie since 2006. He owns a 2.33 ERA since the start of June. Now it seems likelier the Padres will limit Lauer's innings by giving him a breather late in the season instead, as he is set to start the first-half finale on Sunday.

"We'll pick our times to ease off," Green said. "It doesn't have to be right at the All-Star break. He's been in too good a rhythm. ... We feel good about the way he feels and letting him pitch again, and [we'll] make a determination later on if we need to rest him."

Green did acknowledge that Lauer won't be pushed on Sunday, as the Padres will be looking to get their relievers some game action before the four-day break.

"[Lauer] won't pitch into the eighth and the ninth this time," Green said. "I feel pretty certain saying that."

Video: SD@ARI: Richard gets double play with the bases full

Richard likely to open second half
The Padres plan to finalize their second-half rotation plans in the next day or two, but Green noted it's likely that veteran left-hander Clayton Richard will get the ball on July 20 in Philadelphia -- the first game after the All-Star break.

Richard owns a 4.50 ERA in 19 starts this season, and he'll wrap up his first half on Friday against the Cubs. The Padres signed him to a two-year extension in September, in large part so he could be the staff's workhorse -- limiting the burden on the bullpen and the youngsters.

He's pitched six frames in 11 of his last 12 starts and is on pace to eclipse 200 innings easily.

Video: OAK@SD: Lopez rips an RBI double to right in the 2nd

Lopez recalled
With Lucchesi headed for El Paso, the Padres recalled catcher Raffy Lopez to provide some depth on their bench. Lopez's presence should allow the Padres to use A.J. Ellis as a pinch-hitter, with some extra insurance behind starting catcher Austin Hedges.

Lopez has spent the season moving between Triple-A and the Majors. In 34 games with the big league club, he's hitting .180/.263/.290. Lopez was packing to return from the Triple-A All-Star break when he got a late-night phone call on Wednesday.

"You get used to it -- this is my role," Lopez said of the back-and-forth between levels. "At times it can be frustrating, and at times it's exciting. It's a call to the big leagues. That is still exciting."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi