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Jay Paris: Two North County baseball souls comfortable in new roles

Bud Black in slacks at first pitch?

Dave Roberts with a shock of white hair?

What’s up with our two North County baseball lifers settling into their new gigs?

Black, of Solana Beach, is the Los Angeles Angels assistant general manager.

Roberts, of Cardiff and ex-Padres bench coach, is now the Los Angeles Dodgers manger.

Both share a distinction of requiring a double take as the baseball season completes an opening week lap.

The local pair kept the hot stove flickering, as they decided where to plop their baseball portfolios.

Black, the former Padres manager, now digest this important data: Amtrak times to Anaheim and when Charles Nagy is ready.

Nagy, the Angels pitching coach, also resides in Solana Beach. Yes, a car pool has formed.

But when Nagy arrives at the “Big A,” he suits up. Black heads for the suites in clothes minus a uniform number.

“I like what I’m doing,” Black said. “I like working with these guys.”

Black, a lefty, is among fresh general manager Billy Eppler’s right-hand men.

Manager Mike Scioscia appreciates Black’s presence, another link to the team’s 2002 World Series title when Black was his pitching coach.

“We like having him here,” Scioscia said. “We just need to win some ball games.”

The Angels started slow and so did Black’s transition out of cleats. He spent spring training as an Angels’ roving instructor, still wearing the big league duds and spending games on the dugout steps.

“That was fun, too,” Black said. “It’s just a good combination.”

We think he’s talking about his new role. Or maybe it’s the days Nagy fights the Orange County traffic. We do know Black looked like Black, which meant a smile and an upbeat demeanor.

The one-time, down low in D.C. was that Black was the Washington Nationals manager. But they disagreed on two small matters: compensation and length.

“That one just didn’t work out,” he said.

So Black commutes north instead.

Same goes for Roberts, a recent San Diego Hall of Champions inductee.

But what’s with his hair?

At Tuesday’s Dodgers opener, franchise legends were introduced to honor broadcaster Vin Scully’s last season. There was Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe and wasn’t it grand that Roberts, No. 30, was in line as the link to the present.

But when Roberts tipped his cap the distant San Gabriel Mountains never looked so white.

Then I recalled Roberts’ hectic first week on the watch.

He swept the Padres in historic fashion. That segues into losing three of four in San Francisco, in a series where he pulled a pitcher in his MLB debut tossing a no-hitter in the eighth inning.

But white hair?

“Wills,” my 89-year-old father says, via an elbow in the ribs. “That’s Maury Wills, No. 30.”

He’s correct, as usual.

My first impression was the pressures of being the Dodgers skipper had befallen Roberts. That salt had prevailed in his hair-do’s, salt-and-pepper tussle, and that was that.

Instead the iconic Wills was on hand and why not, him getting to see Scully’s exit and Roberts’ entrance.

It was Wills that took Roberts aside in 2002, his first Dodgers training camp. In the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Roberts, Wills saw an overachiever blessed with speed, baseball IQ and the smarts to utilize both.

Roberts, a 28th-round pick, noticed Wills in his No. 30 jersey and saw his path to the big leagues. Wills, 5-foot-11 and 170-pounds, battled and bunted for nearly a decade in the minor leagues before his call up.

Their bond of a willingness to work and to embrace their unique skills ultimately had them back at Dodger Stadium. That both wore No. 30 meant there was one confused guy in the stands.

That Wills was there is a given.

That Roberts was there as the new manager is cool.

So is the name of Roberts’ dog: “Maury.”

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.