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D-backs Start Spring Training With Plenty Of Questions, Just How They Want It

There are seven or eight guys competing for five spots in the pitching rotation. There were six different guys named as possible first basemen. An established batting order is a distant dream and Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson can't even say yet if his team will play small-ball to manufacture runs or if they will again be a power team on offense. 

To say that the Diamondbacks have a lot to figure out this Spring Training would be an understatement. Some of that is a result of all the changes the team made in the offseason and lack of star power in key positions, but some of that is by design and part of the culture change Gibson and Kevin Towers are trying to accomplish. 

Gibby wants players to be hungry like his was his first Spring Training when he was cut from the major league team despite leading the squad in home runs. He recalled being pissed about getting sent down.

"I hope there's some of those guys in this camp," Gibby said.

Gibson was hesitant to be too specific about what things he will do differently in his first year running camp. He didn't want to imply that his way was better then the last guy's (as he put it). He promised the team would get in shape and do some full speed work but also would have time to relax and have some laughs. He wants his team to lock in when it's time but also not work until they drop.

Some of the changes he was willing to talk about focused on things like holding runners on base, and getting more plate production from the pitching staff.

"I want guys that can bunt, that can slash, that I can hit and run with. Ultimately, that's our goal. I'm using pitching right now for the topic, but that goes for every position on the field. We want to try and get as good as we can get and have a broader sense of our responsibility at any given position," the D-backs manager said.

"We want to have more ways to compete ourselves into good situations and more ways to compete ourselves out of bad situations...We're going to work very hard at expanding our game."

Ultimately, it seems that Gibson will adjust his style of play to the skill sets of his final 25-man roster instead of picking guys will skills that fit a certain mold even if they don't have the desired level of competitiveness. 

Additional Notes:

  • Towers on Jarrod Parker -- "I think sometimes you can coddle people too long. This guy's almost two years post-op (from) Tommy John (surgery, Oct 2009). He threw very good instructional ball. He's been working his tail off here in the offseason at Chase Field. He's a special pitcher. We're going to do what's right for him but this guy's chomping at the bit."
  • Nationals did as good as they could limiting Strasburg's work and he still blew his arm out.
  • Parker might pitch well enough to make club out of Spring Training but still makes sense give him few starts in minor league because he's not pitched in game situation in a few years, "but if he forces our hand...maybe he starts with us."
  • Kevin Towers on what went wrong for D-backs over last two years -- Had a great bull pen in 2007 but didn't keep it. Had success early with young players. In mid-08 facing adversity first time and no vet leadership to help deal with it. Self-doubt came in. Looking forward now -- hope vets and new staff will help young players.
  • Kelly Johnson's arbitration hearing is on Wednesday. Being able to settle is best for both sides. Will talk today.
  • Zach Duke is only player not here on time. His wife is close to having a baby so he may be a day or two late. 
  • At first base the D-backs will try a variety of players this Spring. Geoff Blum, Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen, Xavier Nady, Paul Goldschmidt, even pitcher Micah Owings. Towers even left the door open for new additions at first base saying it could be someone we don't know yet.
  • Gibson on how the final roster will look come April -- "I'm very open minded right now. I don't know how I could honestly say I know how it's going to come together. I don't want to know right now...This is a long Spring Training, we're going to play a lot of games. People are going to have a lot of opportunity. We're going to ask a lot." 
  • Gibson on expectations for pitchers -- Everyone looks at guy on mound. Lot more to being a pitcher. That's the top of the pyramid. I want them to locate. Want fielders to know where pitch is going. Hold runners -- it will be complicated how want to do that. Field position. More than just bunting at the plate.
  • Goal for Spring Training: Set tone for season. Be healthy. Determine 25 roster and look long term. See young kids that won't be w/ team to start. Establish mind set w/ young kids to take to minor league. Keep building on that. "We have a vision and we want to build on that."
  • "The Diamondback Way. We want to make sure when we come in to see somebody they know that they're in for a very intense competition. We can do all that right and not win the game, but we're not going to roll over. We're going to fight right to the end."
  • Towers on roster uncertainty -- "I think fans, I think media, they like to kind of know what that lineup is going to be on February 15. Even in Jarrod Parker's situation, I want this kid to go out and try and win a job in our rotation. He's got incredible stuff." 
  • It's going to be highly competitive. Pitching, utility players, first base. 
  • Can you win the division? "Why not? Every year regardless of what our payroll is or ball club is, my expectation is...I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't think you had a chance to win."
  • Towers excited about young pitching -- Hudson, Kennedy, Skaggs, Corbin, Miley, Parker, Enright
  • "I think our pen's improved now. We've got some good options down there in the seventh, eighth and, ninth innings. J.J. Putz is like he was in 2007. I can see this team greatly improving on where it's been in the last couple of years."
  • Montero on Henry Blanco -- "That's a good addition, man. I got real excited when I heard about it. He and I were pretty close, we played together in Winter Ball. I know it's going to be a big help for me, big help for the team. He's a great guy to have around."