SAN FRANCISCO -- It's been a long time coming for Chris Robinson, but Saturday's matinee against the Giants marked his first career Major League start.
The 29-year-old backup catcher batted eighth and went 1-for-5 in his eighth career contest, spelling starting catcher Nick Hundley while fellow backup Rene Rivera is in Puerto Rico with his wife awaiting the arrival of their twins. With Rivera's imminent family situation, manager Bud Black told Robinson earlier this week that he'd be making his first start in San Francisco.
"He didn't really overly react, but I could tell he was excited," Black said. "It's a great day. Anytime you can make your first Major League start, it's a special day."
Robinson has already had a memorable week, highlighted by his pinch-hit, three-run homer Wednesday night at home against the D-backs. Following that long ball, his phone was ringing all night and morning as his friends and family from his hometown of London, Ontario, Canada, caught wind of his first career hit and home run.
Robinson was promoted to San Diego when rosters expanded at the beginning of the month, but he entered Saturday's contest with just seven at-bats, after logging nearly 2,400 Minor League plate appearances. For his first Padres assignment behind the dish, Robinson was tasked with catching southpaw Eric Stults.
"It's been great to watch Chris -- and all of our guys without a lot of Major League service time -- be in a Major League environment," Black said. "This is a day that he'll remember."
Gregerson leads emerging Padres bullpen
SAN FRANCISCO -- Luke Gregerson has been something of an ironman in San Diego's bullpen the past few seasons. Gregerson has averaged more than 72 outings per year since joining the club in 2009, including 72 in 2013 after pitching a scoreless eighth inning in Saturday's 9-3 Padres victory over the Giants.
The Padres have quietly assembled a quality bullpen that features a good mix of youth and experience, and Black said much of that success has to do with Gregerson.
"He's a guy that I've placed a lot of trust in," Black said, "just as far as leadership and doing the right things out in the bullpen to get that mindset right for that group."
Looking ahead to 2014, Black said he's encouraged by the team's bullpen, which features three relievers with sub-3.00 ERAs -- Gregerson (2.76), Nick Vincent (2.15) and Huston Street (2.38).
"The work in the second half has been encouraging for next year," Black said. "Couple that with some of the arms that we have coming, we're excited about the future of some our younger pitchers."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.