GLENDALE, Ariz. — That stolen base for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 AL Championship Series will always be Dave Roberts’ biggest moment in baseball, unless he can manage the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series title.

And maybe it’s his youthful enthusiasm that makes it seem like Roberts retired as a player just yesterday.

Saturday morning, Roberts presided over the first workout for Dodgers pitchers and catchers. He stood a few feet from Clayton Kershaw as the ace threw his first pitches of spring.

Roberts, 43, hadn’t managed at any level until the Dodgers hired him to replace Don Mattingly.

“I feel I’m in a good place,” Roberts said.

“It’s exciting, and I think that as a coach, or as a first-time manager, you always want to control your emotions,” Roberts said. “But we just met for the first time in there and I let the guys know how excited I am, the staff is, and I’m sure they are to get going as well. Every spring training the first day is exciting, but obviously in this position it’s all new to me. But it’s going to be fun.”

Roberts couldn’t get an interview for the San Diego Padres’ managerial vacancy, yet he became the first minority manager in Dodgers franchise history. He takes over a team that won three consecutive NL West titles under Mattingly, who mutually parted ways with the team in November.

Roberts moves up in stature and up the freeway. He was on Bud Black’s staff the last five seasons in San Diego, including the final two as bench coach.

After Black was fired in mid-June, Roberts managed the Padres for one game before Pat Murphy was brought in as interim manager. Murphy was fired the day after the season ended. Roberts wasn’t interviewed for the job that went to Andy Green.

The Padres apparently wanted a clean break from the Black era.

“I think initially it took me back, but at the end of the day, if it’s not going to be a fit, then I do believe it’s not personal,” said Roberts, who was offered a chance to remain on San Diego’s coaching staff. “And so, I just felt it was time for me to move on. … I couldn’t be happier.”

Players and others mention how Roberts cares about everyone around him. Mark Kotsay, the Athletics’ new bench coach, is thrilled for his good friend.

“He definitely takes interest in the players and has a relationship, develops that relationship,” said Kotsay, who spent the previous four seasons with the Padres, two as a player, one in the front office and then last year as hitting coach.