Black pleased with Baker's job filling in at catcher

Black pleased with Baker's job filling in at catcher

OAKLAND -- The backup catching position isn't one Padres manager Bud Black takes lightly or even takes for granted.

To that end, Black has been happy with the work John Baker has done in his first two-plus months with the team, though a lot of the groundwork as far as getting to know a new pitching staff was set in Spring Training.

"The preparation [with Baker] has been there, his interaction with the pitchers and with [pitching coach Darren Balsley] is there. And on the defensive side, you feel comfortable with him," Black said.

Baker made his 21st start of the season on Saturday. He's hitting .231 with eight RBIs heading into the final game of a three-game series Sunday against the A's, though since May 12 he's hitting .296.

Last season, Nick Hundley had two stretches on the disabled list and the Padres had to use three backup catchers -- Rob Johnson, Luis Martinez and Kyle Phillips. This season, Baker has been the guy the Padres have turned to on days and nights when Hundley hasn't started.

"It's a real valuable piece on a Major League team," Black said.