DENVER -- There was no shortage of voices praising the Padres' team effort in Tuesday night's 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Rockies. Among the loudest was Matt Kemp, who noted the hard work of the outfielders in refuting critics who had questioned their defensive qualifications.
"We've just got to continue to work and keep getting better," Kemp said Tuesday. "This is an all-around great team effort today and I'm proud of the boys."
It's been relatively rare for a Friar to take a vocal leadership role in recent years, and the impact was not lost on manager Bud Black.
"When one of your better players is complimenting the group, for the younger players, for [Wil] Myers and [Derek] Norris and [Will] Middlebrooks and [Jedd] Gyorko, and for guys with just a couple years of service, it makes them feel good," Black said. "A guy like Matt Kemp, who's been around, he's been in playoffs, he's a star player, compliments the group, it makes you feel good."
Black compared Kemp to veteran players like David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston, who made a big impact in the dugout with their teammates, ultimately helping shape the team's identity.
"Believe me, there's been some times in the dugout where we haven't made a play and he's getting on guys, too," Black noted. "I like the fact that it's going both ways. But he's not saying that in the press. You don't say that in the press. Guys are on each other, both good and bad. That's a good thing.
"What I like about it is, this is a group that hasn't been together, that really doesn't know each other. Usually it takes a while for guys to get to know each other and feel really comfortable with your teammates. This is six weeks of Spring Training and two weeks of the season, that's not a lot. But guys are getting there pretty quick, that's good."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.