The Justin Upton era is officially over in Arizona but despite rumors suggesting otherwise, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson did not want to see his talented right fielder go.
The D-backs traded Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player blockbuster on Thursday, but Gibson told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf it was tough to part with the team’s franchise face.
“It’s hard to trade a guy like Justin Upton,” Gibson said. “Loved the guy, enjoyed my time with him, a great player. But when you look at certain things you are trying to do today, tomorrow and in the future, you got to trade some good guys to get some good things in return and I think all in all we made the decision as an organization to do that.”
Gibson said he actually can relate to Upton’s rise through the ranks and sees a lot of himself in the young star.
“I had a good time working with him. I feel like I taught him a lot. I feel like I shared many experiences with him on the way up and that he took those well,” Gibson explained. “Were there times when maybe I said things that he didn’t like? I’m sure there were. Sparky Anderson did the same to me. It’s part of baseball. It’s part of coaching. I think some things are blown out of proportion.”
Gibson explained reports of him benching J-Up last season were false and that some conflict, if it can benefit the team in the long run, can do some good. Even so, he had no qualms about Upton’s performance and respected the way he handled himself.
“He did not frustrate me,” Gibson said. “I liked the way [Upton] played. I thought he busted his ass all the time. Did he make mistakes, yeah. But I will tell you I will never forget the mistakes that I made too trying and I will never lose the concept of that. People try, it doesn’t always work out.”
While the D-backs organization opted to go in a different direction, Gibson said it had nothing to do with Upton falling out of favor with him.
“I really had no problem with [Upton] at all. He had a ton of ability and I think there’s a lot more left in him,” Gibson said.