Despite worst record in 15 seasons, Black will return to Padres' dugout

SAN DIEGO -- Manager Bud Black won't be made a scapegoat for the San Diego Padres' worst finish in 15 years.

The Padres announced late Monday afternoon that Black and most of his staff will return in 2009. The Padres finished last in the NL West this year at 63-99, 21 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was their worst finish since going 61-101 in 1993.

The Padres won't renew the contract of bench coach Craig Colbert. Last week, hitting coach Wally Joyner resigned with six games left due to philosophical differences with the front office, which relies heavily on statistical analysis to make personnel decisions.

Although Black is under contract through next season, upper management refused to publicly address his status for next season in the final days of their lost season.

"We have the confidence and trust in Buddy to lead the club back to our winning ways," general manager Kevin Towers said in a statement. "When we hired him before the 2007 season, the most important element to us was to bring in a manager who would continue to grow with the Padres organization."

Towers said in a text message that he wouldn't have any more comment until he and Black hold a news conference at Petco Park on Tuesday.

Black didn't return phone or text messages.

Asked after Sunday's season-ending loss to Pittsburgh if he wanted to come back, Black said: "Yeah. I love managing. It's a great job, yeah. I like this organization. Decisions will be made."

Several players lobbied for Black to return.

"I think he should come back," right fielder Brian Giles said Monday night. "It's not his fault we lost so many games. We weren't dominant enough to compete in our division. We have to get better. That's not the manager's fault."

Giles, whose .398 on-base percentage was one of the best in baseball, is waiting to find out if the Padres will pick up his $9 million option for 2009 or pay a $3 million buyout.

"I've got no problems with Buddy," ace Jake Peavy said Sunday. "I think Buddy's done a nice job. It's certainly not Buddy's fault, none of these coaches, it's not their fault the way we have performed as a team. I want to make that very clear. Buddy's not responsible for this team losing 99 games, nor are any of those coaches who may or may not be here next year. That should be made very clear."

Black is 152-173 in two seasons. The former big league pitcher was hired in November 2006 after Bruce Bochy was allowed to jump to the division-rival San Francisco Giants despite having a year left on his contract.

Black, who had been pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels, inherited a team that won two straight NL West titles. The Padres extended their 2007 season to a 163rd game before losing a wild-card tiebreaker game at Colorado in 13 innings.

The front office projected 90 wins this season but a dreadful offense, injuries and an underperforming bullpen left the Padres well short. San Diego ended the season loaded with players who started the season in the minors.

Also returning will be bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, pitching coach Darren Balsley, third base coach Glenn Hoffman and first base coach Rick Renteria.