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It's a Black winter in San Diego

December 8, 2008 |  7:53 pm

Bud Black

LAS VEGAS –- Padres Manager Bud Black, who lives year-around in San Diego, was asked Monday if anyone has bothered to ask him how a team that won a division title in 2006 could have fallen to last by 2008.

“Neighbors have," Black said. "Friends have.”

Those friends and neighbors also are asking how a team that had a $74-million payroll last season could start the 2009 season at about half of that total.

Black said that he tries to be positive when he's asked those kinds of questions –- or as positive as is possible given the circumstances.

“Get on board early,” the former Angel pitching coaching said with a laugh. “It’s brewing. You don’t want to miss out.”

But in a serious vein, Black admitted that it can be tough to remain positive when your team already has traded its starting shortstop, turned it back on all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman and is trying to deal former Cy Young Award-winner Jake Peavy.

“Every game that we take the field I expect us to win, regardless of our payroll, the other team’s payroll, their players, our players,” Black said. “So I don’t think about all of those things. My job, those of us in uniform, the coaches and the players, our job is to prepare to play and go out and do everything we can to win a game.

“All of those other things are, to me –- I don’t want to say not on my mind. But they are not at the forefront of my mind of what I have to do in my job.

“The Padres situation is different than a lot of other people’s situations. But still, every game, I think we all have the same expectations to win.”

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: San Diego Padres manager Bud Black. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press