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Padres players respect former skipper Black

SAN DIEGO -- Hours after Bud Black's office was vacated following his being dismissed on Monday, prior to the Padres' 9-1 loss to the Oakland A's, his former players spoke admiringly about their former skipper.

"Buddy's a great manager,'' James Shields said. " He did everything we asked him, as players, to do. We understand it's part of the business, but we're going to miss him over here.''

Black, after eight-plus seasons with the Padres, was relieved of his role by general manager A.J. Preller. It's not surprising that Black's players supported their departed skipper.

"We're all shocked,'' outfielder Matt Kemp said.

"I'm definitely surprised by the timing,'' said Kemp. "We've been playing pretty good baseball the last two or three weeks. A lot of us are disappointed in the way we've played this year; we can all get better. I guess the front office decided to go in a different direction. I'm not quite sure what it is.''

Black's compass was always pointed toward the street's sunny side. His positive manner was as consistent as San Diego's enviable weather.

Outfielder Will Venable had played for only one Major League manager, and that was Black.

"He was the kind of coach you got respect from,'' Venable said. "He was almost like a father-figure, and you never want to let down your dad. With Buddy, it was the same way. You didn't want to disappoint him, and I'm happy I was here for his run.''

Video: Preller on relieving Black of his managerial duties

Black's detractors said he wasn't emotional enough.

Venable scoffed at that notion.

"They aren't in here, obviously, when the stuff hits the fan,'' Venable said. "He's a mellow guy, but that doesn't mean he's not a fiery guy.''

Shields said there's not one individual to finger as the third-place Padres started the day at 32-33, six games back of the National League-West leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dave Roberts, Black's bench coach, managed the team on Monday. Preller said he'll interview candidates to become the interim manager, with Roberts being considered.

"It's not on the players, coaches or Buddy,'' Shields said. "It's a decision the front office made. It's got to take us as players to figure it out. We can't put the blame on anybody. We have to figure it out. We've got to get better -- play consistent baseball and grind it out."

Shields said he was "disappointed" about Black leaving, but that the Padres can't focus on the change.

"As players we've got to move on,'' he said. "We're disappointed in the way we've been playing. We can definitely get better.

"Clubhouse? It's upbeat. We understand what we need to do. From here on out, we need to do a better job of winning ballgames. We can't control what goes on in the outside world. We can control what we do on that baseball field, and that's what we need to focus on.' '

But the there's no denying that the Padres shook up their landscape.

"It's not something we are trying to hide from, it is a distraction,'' Derek Norris said. "Hopefully we can go on the field and our concentration goes from a distraction to [beating the A's].''

That would likley put a smile on Black's face.

"He's a great person,'' Norris said. "He genuinely cares about each person and every individual: the media, players, staff. He treats everyone with a level of respect that everyone wants, and that is what everybody loved about him. That is definitely something we are going to miss.''

Jay Paris is a contributor to
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