MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

NL West managers have Padres, D-backs roots

NL West managers have Padres, D-backs roots

SAN DIEGO -- Dave Roberts could have wound up managing the Padres. He was their bench coach almost two years ago when Bud Black was dismissed.

"It was not my call," Roberts said on Friday night. "I just worked there."

His managerial tenure in San Diego lasted one game on June 15, 2015. He was replaced by Pat Murphy and sent back to the bench.

"We got blown out by the Oakland A's," Roberts recalled about the 9-1 home loss.

After that season, he was hired to manage the Dodgers where, in 2016, the club won its fourth consecutive National League West title and Roberts was elected NL Manager of the Year.

It couldn't have worked out any better.

"I wouldn't change a thing," he said before his Dodgers engaged the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park.

It couldn't have worked out any better for anybody concerned. The NL West is now replete with its best and brightest set of managers from top to bottom, all now with ties to the Padres, D-backs or southern California.

Bruce Bochy is the mainstay in San Francisco since 2007 where he's won three World Series titles. When Black was fired and Roberts left San Diego, the dominos fell just like this: Roberts to Los Angeles, Andy Green to San Diego, and this season, Black to the Rockies and Torey Lovullo to the D-backs.

Bochy and Roberts both played for and managed the Padres. Black followed Bochy's 12-year San Diego tenure and lasted eight-plus years. Green was the third base coach under manager Chip Hale in Arizona when he was hired last year by the Padres. Lovullo, the bench coach in Boston under John Farrell, is from Los Angeles, and like Roberts, went to UCLA. He replaced Hale.

Padres and D-backs pedigrees, all of them.

"Now that Torey is over in Arizona, you can safely say that," Green said. "I've had one brief conversation with him and he seems incredibly genuine, he seems like a great person. I've heard great things from mutual friends who have been over there with them. Obviously, Chip Hale was very good to me and very close to me. I have an affinity for him. But Torey seems to be doing a good job. They're off to a very nice start."

Black, in his second act with the Rockies, is also off to a nice start. The Rockies were in San Diego this week, and the former left-handed pitcher returned to Petco for the first time since his forced departure.

The Rockies won two of the three games and at 11-5 on the road are actually playing better than at Coors Field, where with Friday night's loss to the D-backs, they are 7-7.

Black, like Roberts, has a gregarious personality and loves to spin out stories that have nothing to do with any particular game. On Wednesday night, he was trying to tell one about his father, Harry, who was a Minor League hockey player in Los Angeles during the 1940s. The gist of it was that an old-time hockey fan showed up at an Angels game one day in Anaheim and gave Black one of his father's sticks.

Black didn't get a chance to finish the story for the mass of media before they were herded off to the cubicle of Ian Desmond, who had hit two homers that night in an 11-3 win.

"I'll finish it tomorrow," he promised and then concluded the oft-heard tale for a lone visitor right then and there.

At the end of his pregame media session on Friday, Roberts finished up waxing eloquent about the NL West competition and the Dodgers when the team's traveling public relations director, Joe Jareck, told him to mention something about Clayton Kershaw.

"We're going to start Kersh [on Saturday] and Brandon McCarthy will go on Sunday," he said. "Brandon had a little weight room incident, just tweaked his left shoulder a little bit. He's fine, but that will just let him get that extra day."

Roberts was teased that he had buried the lede, an old newspaper phrase for not getting the most important information out first, or in a written sense, at the top of a story.

"I know, that's why I have guys like Joe Jareck around to help me," Roberts said. "He guides me. Hey, people need people."

While Lovullo and Green are still learning the ins and outs of the division, and in Lovullo's case the NL, nobody knows their managing contemporaries better than Bochy, Black and Roberts.

"We haven't beaten them a lot lately so I'm staying away from him," Roberts said about Black.

But really. Black was in a good mood this week in his triumphant return to Petco, Roberts was told.

"Because they're playing good baseball, I'd be in a good mood, too," Roberts said. "No, Buddy's great. We catch up a lot by way of text. We get coffee during the winter. We spend a lot of time with each other."

And how much did he learn from Black?

"How much? I use stuff he taught me every day," said the could-have-been Padres manager.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.