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Diamondbacks’ Gibson: Kubel not ‘just a pinch hitter’

When news broke that third baseman Matt Davidson had arrived at Chase Field Sunday, there was speculation amongst the media that the Arizona Diamondbacks may have made room for the young, power-hitting prospect by designating Jason Kubel for assignment.

That wasn’t the case, as Eric Chavez was instead placed on the 15-day disabled list, but, after the veteran outfielder’s 2012 season, it’s almost unthinkable that he had plummeted so low, to be considered for such a transaction.

On July 22 last year, Kubel had a .300 batting average with a .372 on-base percentage and a .585 slugging percentage to boot. In 85 games with his new team, he already had 21 home runs, 44 extra-base hits, 71 RBI and a .956 OPS.

In 77 games this year, the left fielder is hitting .223 with just five home runs, 14 extra-base hits and 28 RBI. He is slugging .631 with an on-base percentage below .300.

It seems apparent that the player who was snubbed from last year’s All-Star Game has been relegated to a pinch-hitting role, but Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo differently on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t call him just a pinch hitter,” said Gibson.

“I talked to him yesterday. We talked about some things like, ‘you know, even though you’re not starting right now, you have to be ready to play.”

The 31-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract with the Diamondbacks, has started just eight games in the second half of the season. He has had only 35 plate appearances in that span, during which he is batting .118 with a .176 slugging percentage and 11 strikeouts.

“He needs to be ready for an opportunity,” Gibson continued.

“He’s prepared for that.”

Kubel has reportedly been battling knee soreness dating back to spring training.