A-Gon gone, but Padres excited about future

Padres manager Bud Black said Sunday he’s excited about his

team’s roster, even after an offseason in which the team traded

star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.

Gonzalez is one of several key departures from a surprising team

that was in first place in the NL West for 131 games last season

and finished with 90 victories.

The Padres ultimately missed out on the postseason after

finishing two games behind the World Series champion San Francisco

Giants, but Black was named NL manager of the year for keeping a

team that started with a $38 million payroll in contention until

the final day.

Working with a group that will feature a maximum of nine

holdovers from last season’s 25-man roster from opening day, Black

knows there’s plenty of work to do during spring training.

”We like the group that is assembled,” Black said. ”We’re

excited about some of the new guys we brought in. It’s a group

that, especially on the position players’ side, will look a little

different than last year’s group. That is the nature of this day

and age.”

The Padres added center fielder Cameron Maybin and shortstop

Jason Bartlett in separate trades this offseason, and also signed

free agents that include pitcher Aaron Harang, second baseman

Orlando Hudson, first baseman Brad Hawpe and infielder Jorge

Cantu.

”That’s part of managing and coaching is making all the pieces

to the puzzle fit,” Black said. ”We feel as though the guys we

have will mesh and that’s what spring training is for.”

The Padres’ roster is mostly set, though club officials knew

they had no way of replacing Gonzalez, who played five seasons in

San Diego and was the team’s most valuable player in each of the

last four.

Hawpe is expected to be the team’s starting first baseman though

Cantu will also see time there. The Padres’ competitions are

primarily for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, the final

spot in the bullpen and for several backup jobs.