In three weeks, Black and the Padres will head to Peoria, Ariz., with a more settled rotation, at least to begin with, especially after the team signed veteran free-agent right-hander Jon Garland on Tuesday to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011.
"With Jon, there's a great degree of reliability," said Black, knowing that the Padres used 15 different starting pitchers last season.
Garland will make $4.7 million this season, with a mutual option for $6.75 million in 2011. If the Padres decline the option, he gets a $600,000 buyout. If Garland rejects it, the buyout is $300,000.
In Garland the Padres get exactly what they wanted: General manager Jed Hoyer said he wanted a starter who was "dependable" and had "durability." Garland has thrown at least 191 2/3 innings in every season since 2002.
"I've seen Jon since he came through the American League as a young pitcher," Black said. "I've always liked his style, I've always liked the durability, I liked that he makes his starts and he toes the rubber every fifth day. And I like his stuff, the heavy sinker, I like the way he attacks hitters."
Hoyer said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters that Garland was someone that the organization had targeted early in the offseason and had kept in touch with the agent for Garland, Craig Landis. It was only in the last week when talks escalated.
Garland, 30, went 11-13 last season with a 4.01 ERA between six starts with the Los Angeles Dodgers and 27 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Garland has a career record of 117-102 with a 4.42 ERA over a 10-year career in the Major Leagues.
Garland spent the first eight seasons of his career with the White Sox. He won 18 games in 2005 and again in 2006. He made the American League All-Star team in 2005.
"There's a reason, Jon fits perfectly with what we're looking to accomplish this winter," Hoyer said. "He's a young veteran and we think can provide innings. He's always pitched in hitter's parks except the last month of the season with the Dodgers.
"Coming to the Padres and pitching in PETCO will help him a great deal. We think he will thrive here."
San Diego and PETCO Park are places Garland, a native of Valencia, which is north of Los Angeles, has been trying to get to for a while.
"If I had that opportunity to pitch on the West Coast, it was something I wanted to do," Garland said. "A place like San Diego is so appealing to me because it's one of the few remaining parks that is a true pitcher's park.
"It's a place early in my career I thought would be a fantastic place to play. It's a place where I saw myself. I wasn't sure it was going to happen. But I got the opportunity and I jumped on it."
Garland essentially completes a starting rotation that includes Chris Young, Mat Latos, Kevin Correia and Clayton Richard. He will also give the staff an innings-eater, much like Correia (198 innings) was last season.
"That's a big part of what makes Jon attractive to us. His track record is he does make starts and logs innings," Black said. "It's important to have those guys you can depend on. We hope with Chris Young and with an emerging Clayton Richard, we have guys who we feel give us a chance every night."
The durability is something Garland says he has pride in.
"If I sign a contract to pitch for a team, whether that be 33 starts or 35 starts, I plan on making all of them," Garland said. "I kind of wish I was pitching back in the day, going on every fourth day when if you're not pitching nine then something is wrong."
After Correia, no other pitcher on the staff threw more than 106 innings. Jake Peavy, an innings-eater, was traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 31. Young, who is projected as the likely Opening Day starter, was injured and made 14 starts and pitched 76 innings.
The addition of Garland doesn't mean pitchers such as Wade LeBlanc, Cesar Ramos and Tim Stauffer, all of whom showed some promise last season, will necessarily be stuck with pitching at Triple-A Portland all season.
"We have a lot of talented young pitchers," Hoyer said. "They will get plenty of chances to help us."