Yu Darvish, the Padres starter Saturday, during spring training. Photo by Chris Stone

The manager insisted it’s all business as usual, ho-hum, the Dodgers are coming to town, but we’ve got the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of us first.

The Padres, led by Chris Paddack and Manny Machado, wrapped up that series Thursday, winning 8-3, to salvage a split of their four games in Pittsburgh.

But even Dodger Justin Turner told MLB.com two months ago that 2021 match-ups with the Padres will be like getting “19 World Series games this year.”

And so it begins, and with a bang too, as the National League West favorites play seven of those games over the next 10 days – the first three at Petco Park as the Dodgers arrive Friday.

The Padres will put Ryan Weathers, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell on the mound, while the Dodgers counter with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer.

Manager Jayce Tingler steadfastly refused early this week to look past the Pirates to speculate about the Dodgers series.

On the way out of town though, Eric Hosmer acknowledged the challenge ahead.

“It’s gonna be a good test for us,” Hosmer told MLB.com. “It’ll be fun to start the first of many series against these guys.”

The teams last faced each other in October, when the Dodgers swept the hobbled Padres in the Division Series. The win set them on the way to victory in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Game 6 of the World Series offers another dimension to the Padres-Dodgers showdown.

Snell, a former Ray, dominated Los Angeles in his start. But his former manager Kevin Cash, who relied heavily on his bullpen throughout the Rays championship run, removed Snell anyway. With that, the Dodgers came back to win the game and clinch the series.

Darvish, who had a brief sojourn as a Dodger, may have something to prove too, as do the much-improved Padres, tired of being NL West doormats and seeing the Dodgers run away with the division. Los Angeles has won eight straight NL West titles.

Both teams come into the weekend with players suffering aches and pains. Fernando Tatis Jr., though, is expected to be activated for the series, according to MLB.com. Trent Grisham, who returned last week, is hitting .333.

The Padres put starter Adrian Morejon on the injured list Monday due to a forearm strain, leading to Weathers taking his place Friday. Wil Myers is nursing a sore knee. Austin Nola is still recovering from a broken finger suffered in spring training.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers – who took the final game, sweeping the Colorado Rockies Thursday – have missed their two former MVPs. Cody Bellinger is on the injured list, while Mookie Betts has dealt with back stiffness.

Updated 10:55 p.m. April 15, 2021

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