Black ranks Padres' bench one of his best with team

Black ranks Padres' bench one of his best with team

SAN FRANCISCO -- There have been a handful of times in his first five seasons as manager of the Padres when Bud Black probably felt handcuffed because the team lacked viable options on the bench.

This isn't one of those seasons, as the Padres have comprised a bench filled with a little of everything, including a versatile infielder (Alexi Amarista), a veteran left-handed bat (Mark Kotsay), a righty with some pop (Jesus Guzman) and a righty-lefty outfield combination (Chris Denorfia, Will Venable) to give the regulars a break to start based on matchups.

"It's big. I think you've seen it. It's really nice. Each game is unique, you never know how a game's going to play out and you never know what you're going to need," Black said. "There is comfort in knowing Amarista can go a couple different places, the Venable-Denorfia combo, Guzman even.

"It's as versatile as probably a lot of Major League benches, regardless of who's playing or on the bench. And they're confident. It's a nice blend of a speed component, defense, everything."

Black rated this assortment of bench players up there with his first team, the 2007 team that included Russell Branyan, Geoff Blum and Jose Cruz, among others.

"The '07 bench was pretty good, too. It sort of changed halfway through, but that was a good bench," Black said. "Maybe not as speed-oriented ... this [2012] is a very good bench."