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Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training 2011: Kirk Gibson Gets Philosophical, Kelly Johnson Hates Moral Victories

The pitchers and catchers continued their rotations between various stations this morning at Diamondbacks camp. Kirk Gibson seemed pleased with the progress and happy with the effort in this morning's work. Asked who stood out, he refused to name specific players, saying instead that the pitchers as a group threw well. 

The morning went something like this:

After stretching and loosening up, the guys split into four groups moving between sessions that lasted about 20 minutes each. One group worked on pick-off moves taught by the artists known as Ed Vosberg and Mike Fetters. Here's a little video of what that looked like:


Another station focused on fielding from the mound. Pretty standard glove work there.

There was a group that worked on bunting and slashing. Kirk Gibson insists that he wants his pitchers to be able to do more than just lay down a bunt. Even if the slash play is just used to annoy opponents or keep them guessing, he wants it to be part of the arsenal. 

And the final station was a short bullpen session. Guys lined up and threw maybe 20 or so pitches each to the catchers opposite them. In this clip, you can see Aaron Heilman (right) throwing to Henry Blanco while Mike Hampton (left) throws to catcher J.J. Pilittere.

Wayward pitcher Clay Zavada was present and took part in some of the stations (which all wrapped up around 11 am) but he didn't throw. For those who care, he's still sporting the mustache, but has added some chin hair to balance it out.

I was told by someone who tried to talk to him, that he considers his absence a personal matter and didn't want to discuss it. Hearing that, I didn't try and track him down myself.

Gibby Waxes Philosophical

As reporters are prone to do, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic asked Gibby a question that implied a comparison to last season's team. Fair question but Gibby used the opportunity to share a bit of his life outlook.

"I'm not going to go there. This is this year, we're focusing on where we want to go. The mind's crazy, and you guys know who Peter Crone is right?

"When you think about the past all the time, when you get to the present day you are thinking about the past so it becomes your future again. You understand? We're not thinking about that. We're thinking about the future. Stop asking me those questions. That's not how my mind works and you know that."

Closer And Catcher

Gibby seemed pleased with this future closer, J.J. Putz. He called Putz a leader who had a great sense of humor. And despite the earlier admonishment that he wouldn't talk about specific guys, he said Putz is throwing the ball very well.

Another example of leadership he gave was Henry Blanco. Gibby said Blanco was the first guy in the weight room this morning (Gibby himself was in at 5:40 riding the bike) with other guys coming in right behind him. 

"I told him today, 'you're the king. I see the way the guys look at you.' You go watch him when he's in the bullpen. Watch how the guys watch him catch," Gibby said.

Kelly Johnson's Awkward Press Conference

Kelly Johnson was initially going to speak by his locker, but the PR staff had him come into the interview room and stand in front of the podium. He didn't like that too much but was a good sport. Kelly said all the right things about being happy with his deal and being glad to avoid arbitration.

Then, and maybe he was inspired by the podium, he went off about last year's team (he must not know Gibby's thinking on that yet).

Here's the full quote:

"I'll be honest, I'm sick of the moral victory thing that we started doing at the end of the year. I think we started with a real good, positive note with spring training and going into the season...I think everyone was confident and positive. I thought  we had a really good momentum going into the season. It was unfortunate the way some games were lost but that's how it works. You still have a chance to go play May, June and July. April, May -- those months aren't going to decide your season.

"It's a shame we started making excuses early and we fell into the trap of moral victories. Well we lost, but the bullpen threw great today. Or, we got a great six innings from our starter but the offense didn't score any runs. We started looking for those positives but were losing. 

"I think that's got to be done. It's got to be out the window. It's got to be more about, how are we going to win today. What is the Arizona Diamondbacks going to do today to win the baseball game. 

"We're not the highest paid team in the world and we're not going to have perennial All-Stars on the roster but we all have the capability to be pretty dang good and we should have that mentality."