Arizona Diamondbacks’ Gibson will not rush to name a closer
Feb 7, 2014, 12:52 AM | Updated: 12:52 am
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Five different Arizona Diamondbacks relievers, the most in eight years, earned a save in 2013.
The question before manager Kirk Gibson is who will he turn to in the ninth inning in 2014?
He certainly has options between Brad Ziegler (13), JJ Putz (6) and David Hernandez (2) from last season. Also in the mix is Addison Reed, whom the Diamondbacks acquired from the White Sox for infielder Matt Davidson.
Gibson, while he likes having choices, is not ready to make one, at least not on the day pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. He wants those four to focus on getting themselves ready to pitch — their delivery, fastball command — rather than trying to win a job.
“I don’t really want them to come out here (Friday) and try to impress me because they want to be the closer,” Gibson said Thursday from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Ziegler last season was thrust into the closer’s role due to others’ ineffectiveness and injuries. All 13 of his saves came after July 10.
Putz was the team’s go-to guy in both 2011 (45 saves) and 2012 (32 saves) while Hernandez, it’s been said repeatedly, has closer’s stuff.
Reed though, based on past performance, would appear to be the front-runner to be the team’s closer. He saved 40 games for the White Sox, fifth-best in the American League, last season while his 69 saves since 2012 are seventh-most in the Majors.
“If they tell me to throw the second inning, I’m going to throw the second inning. If they tell me to throw the ninth inning, that’s when I’ll throw,” Reed said. “Obviously, everybody knows that I want to close. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m here and whatever they have me do is what I’m going to do and I’ll be happy with doing. As long as I’m out there throwing, I’ll be a happy guy.”
The competition for the closer’s job, according to Gibson, will likely continue well into Cactus League play.
“We’re going to take our time and be patient with that,” he said. “We’ll all give them an opportunity through games. I want them to get comfortable and I want them to throw the ball the way they’re capable of throwing it and have confidence. Once they do that I think it’s probably an appropriate question to ask me.”