SAN DIEGO (AP) — Bud Black understood full well the expectations to win now with his remade, star-studded roster — and with a new front office, too.
In his ninth season, Black's time is up after the Padres fired him Monday with San Diego sitting in third place in the loaded NL West at 32-33. The Padres never reached the playoffs during Black's tenure after he took over when Bruce Bochy departed to manage the San Francisco Giants in 2007.
The Padres said they would immediately begin a search for an interim manager for the remainder of the season. Former Padres outfielder and current bench coach Dave Roberts was set to manage San Diego as it hosted the Athletics for a two-game series at Petco Park starting Monday night before going to Oakland for two games.
Black inherited an entire new outfield during the club's offseason overhaul, one Matt Kemp called the best outfield in baseball.
All three came in trades during general manager A.J. Preller's winter frenzy. All three within 48 hours: Kemp in a deal with the reigning NL West champion Dodgers, 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers from the Rays and Justin Upton swapped by Atlanta.
"We've seen a lot of positives along the way. I like the way a lot of our guys are swinging the bat. All these defensive metrics that I'm reading about have us down a little bit," Black said last month at San Francisco's AT&T Park when asked to assess his team. "My eyes tell me we're doing OK in the outfield. Our outfield play's been fine. Our infield play I thought the first two weeks of the season was a little shoddy. It's picked up a little bit better lately. Behind the plate we've been fine. Our pitching's been a little bit uncharacteristically uneven."
Preller also traded for All-Star catcher Derek Norris in a deal with Oakland then punctuated his productive winter by bringing in free agent pitcher James Shields on a $75 million, four-year deal.
During spring training, Black would sometimes begin the day with the phrase, "no trades, no transactions," to note the club was quiet on the transaction front.
"I was excited," Black said during spring training, referring to watching Preller make big moves. "We've still got to catch two teams, the World Series champions and the Dodgers, who won 94 games."
Black, 57, has a 649-713 managerial record after pitching parts of 15 major league seasons. He was named 2010 National League manager of the year after leading the Padres to 90-72 record, the most wins by San Diego since a franchise-record 98 in 1998. But the Padres lost the division title on the final day of the season when they lost at San Francisco, and the Giants went on to capture the World Series.
The Padres haven't had a winning season since then and last year finished 18 games behind Los Angeles in the NL West. Black was in the final year of his contract.
The 43-year-old Roberts, who last played for the Giants in 2008, has been a positive example and presence for the Padres since he re-joined the organization in 2010.
Roberts is cancer-free after undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma beginning in 2010 after it was detected during a physical before his hiring.