Black, Eckstein eager for Anaheim return
San Diego (28-31) at Los Angeles (29-29), 7:05 p.m. PT
LOS ANGELES -- Padres manager Bud Black will return to a familiar place on Friday when the Padres begin their three-game series with the Angels at Angel Stadium.Black spent seven seasons as the Angels pitching coach from 2000-06 under manager Mike Scioscia before being named manager of the Padres before the 2007 season.
Friday will mark the first time that Black has returned to Anaheim as a manager in a regular-season game. The last time the Padres played at Angel Stadium was in 2006, when Black was still with the Angels."It's going to be fun," Black said. "It's a great park. I know a lot of people at the stadium and I'm obviously familiar with the coaching staff. And I know a lot of the players so it's going to be fun." But Black won't be the only former Angel making his return to the stadium. Second baseman David Eckstein played with the club for four seasons, including the 2002 season when the Angels won their first and only World Series title. And like Black, Eckstein is looking forward to playing the Angels in their three-game Interleague series. "I have a lot of good memories there," Eckstein said. "I was able to play there for four years and the fans there were outstanding." For Eckstein, it'll mark his second time back to the stadium. He returned last season for three games in Anaheim when he was playing with the Blue Jays. Eckstein was received warmly by the crowd and he had positive things to say about the fans on Wednesday. "From Day 1, when I showed up in 2001, the fans kind of took me under their wing," said Eckstein, who seems to be a fan favorite wherever he plays. "They've always treated me well and my family, too. So it's definitely a great place to go." Eckstein and Black also had positive things to say about Scioscia, who has managed the Angels since 2000. Black said he's tried to pattern his team's aggressive approach on the basepaths to be like the Angels' approach. "I think I've learned that from Mike and the Angels," Black said. "They steal a lot of bases and they get thrown out a lot, but the aggressiveness on the basepaths is something we've tried to bring here. And we're starting to get those types of players so we can do those things." One of those players that fits that mold has been new addition Tony Gwynn, who has been on fire since being traded to the Padres from the Brewers on May 21. The son of Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, he has hit safely in 13 of his 18 games with San Diego while batting .345 with a .441 on-percentage over that span. "He's swinging it really well," Black said of Gwynn. "He's getting on base and it's what we need at the top of the order. He's spraying line drives, just like his father, all around the park." Pitching matchup
SD: RHP Chad Gaudin (2-4, 5.01 ERA)
Gaudin, coming off his best start with the Padres five days ago, when he allowed one earned run with no walks in 6 1/3 innings, didn't display that kind of command against the D-backs on Friday. He walked four and allowed a home run in the second inning to Chris Young, a solo shot that sailed over the wall in center field. He wouldn't allow another run until the fifth inning, when the D-backs struck for four runs. "I think I'm kind of crushing myself to make great pitches all of the time," Gaudin said. "With my last start in Colorado, I kind of took the approach to just put it in the strike zone and not worry about making the perfect pitch." LAA: RHP Kelvim Escobar (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
Making his first start since the 2007 postseason in Boston, Escobar navigated capably through five innings after a difficult beginning, surrendering two first-inning runs on two singles, two walks and a sacrifice fly. He settled into a groove and allowed only two hits and two walks, along with a hit batsman, through four scoreless innings, finishing with five strikeouts against four walks. Free of shoulder pain following surgery last July, Escobar had good life on his fastball and an effective changeup that worked with his curveball and split to keep hitters off-balance. He is facing the Padres for the first time in a regular-season game. Tidbits
The Padres last played the Angels in 2006 and went 2-1 at Angel Stadium. ... The Padres have Thursday off, so some players will travel back to San Diego on their day off while others will stay near Anaheim. "I'd say it's probably 50-50," said Black, who will go back to San Diego. ... First baseman Adrian Gonzalez was the first player in the Majors this season to reach the 50-walk mark with a walk in the first inning against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Tickets
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Saturday: Padres (Jake Peavy, 6-6, 3.97) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 6-4, 3.94), 6:05 p.m. PT
Sunday: Padres (Chris Young, 4-5, 4.76) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 6-2, 2.31), 12:35 p.m. PT
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.