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Black Is Back

Bud Black likes his 2011 Padres



    Bud Black likes a lot of things. Like the Padres pitching staff.

    "We like it a lot," Black said.

    How about his new defense up the middle of the diamond?

    "We like it a lot," Black said.

    Padres Train Hard, Play Hard

    [DGO] Padres Train Hard, Play Hard
    The Padres like to keep things at a fast tempo in Spring Training.
    (Published Thursday, March 3, 2011)

    See a pattern here?

    Buddy is forthcoming with information (one of the few MLB managers I've worked around who will really tell you how things are), so the answer may be short but it's honest.

    And it's accurate.

    Bell's Changeup

    [DGO] Bell's Changeup
    At Spring Training, Padres pitcher Heath Bell talks to Derek Togerson about changing up his grip.
    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011)

    While Black says Wednesday, February 23 is "too early to tell" who will start on Opening Day, who their 5th starter is, or what his lineup will look like, he likes what he's seen thus far.

    In 2010 Black was not afraid to use players at multiple positions and in different spots in the batting order. It's called having versatility.

    "I think we could have a little bit more," said Black. "With guys like Jorge Cantu, Eric Patterson, Kevin Frandsen, Jarrett Hoffpauir, we're going to have some guys who can move around the diamond."

    Or even venture farther away from home plate. Patterson got to the majors as a 2nd baseman but has played big league games in the outfield. Kyle Blanks and Chase Headley did the same thing for the Padres last year.

    But it's not just the position players that can play multiple roles.

    Pitchers Wade LeBlanc, Corey Luebke and Dustin Moseley are auditioning for that 5th starter role. The two that don't make it also have ability to come out of the bullpen. So, we got a bit of a chuckle during picture day on Wednesday.

    Players held up a piece of paper with their name, number and position written on it. If the photographers tried to put all the positions these guys played on there, they'd need to use a tiny font the camera can't see.

    Speaking of picture day, Buddy has now been through 31 of them. Not a single player I know of actually likes the process, but the Padres make it as painless as possible.

    "Ours move through rather quickly," said Black. "Our community relations and public relations departments do a nice job, and the photographers don't want this to drag out, either. Click, click, move on. It's efficient. Well run."

    The same could be said for the way Spring Training has gone under the reigning NL Manager of the Year.