Dodgers' Roberts back in San Diego as division champ
SAN DIEGO — The Los Angeles Dodgers' Dave Roberts felt the burn.
The San Diego Padres' Andy Green felt the future.
The first-year managers are in very different places as Los Angeles visits San Diego for a three-game series that starts Tuesday at Petco Park.
“We're going to be ready to go Tuesday,” Roberts promised Sunday, with champagne cascading over smiling face. “Once I get my eyes open.”
Roberts' Dodgers sewed up their fourth consecutive National League West title with a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. Roberts broke the seal on his managerial career with some bubbly. Those grapes may sting, but they are far from sour.
The upbeat Roberts is unlikely to have any sour grapes regarding the lowly Padres.
After Roberts served as San Diego's bench coach under Bud Black and then interim manager Pat Murphy last season, the Padres denied Roberts' request to interview for their managerial opening during the offseason.
Instead, the job went to Green, a former third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Roberts landed in Los Angeles (90-66), and let's just say it worked well.
His rookie regular season was capped by Charlie Culberson's walk-off homer Sunday in the last game Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Padres (66-90) are heading for a familiar destination in their sixth straight season of losing baseball. But they have been hitting improving of late.
Green's Padres capped an 8-2 second-half mark against the San Francisco Giants with a win on Sunday, one that eliminated the Giants from contention for the NL West crown. The Padres did so while giving a peek at their future, the one loaded with talent that they say just needs some seasoning.
The Dodgers may have sewn up another title, but they are not done. They are fighting the Nationals (91-65) for home-field advantage in their National League Divisional Series. Washington's lead over Los Angeles is down to one game after a 14-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
The Padres aren't going anywhere except into an offseason that can't get here soon enough. Yet an infusion of young talent finally reached the major league level last week.
Outfielder Manuel Margot revealed his skills on Sunday, lacking only a home run for the second cycle in franchise history.
“He's going to be really good,” Green said. “He's got a feel to hit even when he wasn't getting hits the first couple of games. You could tell he was going to be getting them in short order. He's hit every pitch in a relatively short period of time. Comfortable in the box, confident — he's going to be good.”
Margot is but one of the core four, along with outfielder Hunter Renfroe, second baseman Carlos Asuaje and catcher Austin Hedges.
The San Diego newcomers will oppose Dodgers rookie Jose De Leon (2-0, 5.52 ERA) in the series opener. The 24-year-old right-hander made his major league debut Sept. 4 against the Padres, and he allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings in a win at Dodger Stadium.
Green counters with Paul Clemens (3-5, 4.48 ERA). In 14 games (10 starts) for San Diego since arriving from the Miami Marlins, he is 2-5 with a 4.11 ERA.
Clemens' only two career appearances against the Dodgers came as a reliever in July, and he gave up one run in a total of 2 1/3 innings.