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Roberts settling in to new post as bench coach

Strategic component among biggest differences from manning first base

CLEVELAND -- Dave Roberts has been a bench coach for less than two weeks, yet he has already detected some subtle and some not-so-subtle differences between his former job as first-base coach and his new gig.

For starters, Roberts can't seem to disconnect from that day's game, as he once could as a base coach -- not that he minds.

"One thing I have noticed that as a base coach, after games, I would go home and kind of detach myself from the game," Roberts said. "Now, I find myself at home or in my hotel room thinking more about the game, situations, playing through different scenarios.

"In talking with other people in the game who have been a bench coach or even a manager, they said it is something they tend to do. That's a good thing."

Roberts' vantage point has changed, as have his duties. He's not always attached to the hip of manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley during games -- though he's never too far away.

Roberts will be positioned in the home dugout next to Black and Balsley beginning Friday, when the Padres host the Tigers in the first of three games at Petco Park.

"I've had opportunities to talk to Buddy or Bals and just see things through a different lens," Roberts said. "I think I'm getting more and more comfortable with the role every day. It's one of those jobs where you are always learning something, which is great."

Nick Hundley has observed Roberts in his new role, and the catcher can already see how quickly he's taking to it. Hundley thinks that Roberts' background as a player has and will continue to serve him well in this new capacity.

"He's never too high or too low, and he's very in tune with the game," Hundley said. "And I think another thing that helps is he's been in so many situations as a player -- he's started, come off the bench, been a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, and he's played in the postseason. I think that lends itself well to getting guys ready.

"I think it's a great fit."

As a bench coach, Roberts has to be two or three moves ahead at all times, knowing not only San Diego's personnel, but what the opponent might try to do in certain situations. It's a lot to juggle.

"You're always kind of thinking of putting players in the best possible situations. Buddy told me initially to try to think like a manager," Roberts said. "So that's what I'm trying to do."

Just as he expected, Black said Roberts has been a good fit in his new role. Black hasn't been the least bit shy in giving Roberts plenty to do, either.

"There's an in-game component, Dave staying on top of the game, offering suggestions and thoughts as the game unfolds," Black said. "Defensively, it's coordinating our defensive alignments. The lineup construction, all the coaches, we confer. He's a part of that. He's in charge of controlling the running game, the pitchouts and how we defend the first-and-third [plays].

"He has a daily communication with players, handling certain situations that [come up] during the course of the day, taking a lead on some of those things."

And while Roberts certainly enjoyed his time as a first-base coach and the duties that went with it, working with outfielders and baserunners, he's found gratification in his new post.

"With the slower start, you'd like to mix in a few more wins," Roberts said. "But those are going to come. But the job for me, day to day, is very enjoyable."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
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