D-backs skipper Gibson gets it

Feb 27, 2012, 3:19 PM | Updated: 3:20 pm

Coaches and managers in sports aren’t like fans.

They see the very best in their teams. They also see the
absolute worst.

Enter Kirk Gibson. Fresh off guiding the Diamondbacks to
an unexpected division championship, the 2011 National
League Manager of the Year recently said his players are
in for a long spring, whether they’re in shape or not.

He also told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf he has
confidence in every single player on his roster, from
Justin Upton and J.J. Putz, to Aaron Hill and Bryan Shaw.

While he’s a big fan of his starting rotation from a
pitching standpoint, Gibson says everyone not named Daniel
Hudson left a lot to be desired with how they handled the
bat. They tied for last in the league with just 32
sacrifice bunts, a stat Gibson calls “brutal.” While
Hudson hit .277 with 14 RBIs, Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders
and Josh Collmenter combined for a .159 batting average
and 9 RBIs. Gibson said he spent last week talking and
practicing situational baserunning with his pitchers,
another area he’d like to see improvement in.

Last year was indeed chock full of pleasant surprises —
Paul Goldschmidt, David Hernandez and Ryan Roberts just to
name a few. Gibson expects even more from those guys this
year, and admits this group is mentally and physically
stronger than last year, but that means nothing if they
don’t stay hungry. That starts with how they prepare now.

What makes Gibson so impressive is the same thing that
made guys like Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Terry Francona
so successful — they know how to get players to respond
to them. They know when to turn up the heat on them, and
when to back off. The thing I like about Gibson, is that
he genuinely doesn’t seem to care who likes him or thinks
he’s a great guy. What he does care about is getting the
very best out of all his players.

His next test is getting the very best out of a team that
all of a sudden has a target on their back.

Can they practice that in Cactus League?

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