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December 5, 2011

Kirk Gibson


KIRK GIBSON:  I don't think we're done.  I think we'll try to get better.  And when we go into Spring Training I'll feel good about where we start and we're work some of the finer points of the game that we didn't quite master, advance ourselves a little more.  And when we come out of there we'll feel very good.

Q.  What are some of those finer points?
KIRK GIBSON:  Well, I'm not going to sit here and explain it to you.  You'll learn it in Spring Training. I just jotted down a lot of my thoughts and haven't organized them yet.  But it's just in general to be more efficient in our philosophies, in all aspects of the game.  That's what I strive for.  Give yourself a chance to win ballgames.
Like, for instance, last year we made a lot of mistakes on base running.  We want to be smarter and more efficient with our decisions.  There's a time to be aggressive and make an out, and there's times not to.  We're not there yet.
But there's an example of things we need to work on.  How do we do that?  Well, I have many opinions and theories on how to do that and I'll formulate that and we'll implement a lot of those things in Spring Training.  And when we go on to Spring Training next year, we should see things like that more efficient in our game.

Q.  Are you making notes?
KIRK GIBSON:  I make a lot of notes.

Q.  This is layered on what you already did last year to get it to the next level.
KIRK GIBSON:  I think what we did last year is somewhat elementary, compared to if we establish our nucleus, which we have done, and then you just keep advancing.  And inning I told you guys last year that a lot of things that I've learned throughout my career, as a youth, playing sports and into college and then professional ball, I've been coached by many great managers and got a chance to talk to many great managers, and had many conversations with players over the years.  So I think I have a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom and I've developed my philosophies of the game based on that.
I can't expect our team to learn all that in a short period of time.  I came into professional baseball in 1978.  It's not really that I have any answers that anybody else doesn't, maybe just the way I approach it.  I might do it a little bit differently.  And my goal is to get them to where they're much more efficient and just know when to make what play, whether it's offensively or defensively, whether they're a pitcher, whether they're a baserunner, whether they're throwing a ball in or cut off, that's something we didn't do very good.
We started hitting the cutoff pretty good.  But you've got to know what you do when you hit the cut off.  There's ways to cut innings off.  And overall you look at our season last year, our starting pitching had 67 wins for us out of '94.  That's pretty fortunate.  That made our bullpen better.  Those things are going to be hard to duplicate.  So we have to give those pitchers a chance, if they execute properly, they give a hit up and they get multiple guys on base, so we can cut that Inn go off for them.

Q.  In your experience what kind of things does Mike Matheny have to look forward to?
KIRK GIBSON:  I can't tell you.  I don't know where he's at with his thought process.

Q.  Are there general problems that come up?
KIRK GIBSON:  I know from talking to him and youth hockey rinks, he's a catcher, I know he's very smart.  I'm not familiar with his situation.  But it's something new every day.  I'm sure he's excited about it.  He'll be tested just as he was as a player.  He won't have to worry about con cushions, though.
Anybody who gets an opportunity, it's your will, determination, knowledge and leadership is certainly going to be tested.

Q.  Do you have kids playing hockey the same time he did?

Q.  What's it mean to you to win Manager of the Year?
KIRK GIBSON:  A lot.  I want to win a World Series, and that's my goal because, I mean, I'll just give you an example, and when 1988 I won the MVP.  And I had a press conference and there was probably about 70 people there, and it was all about me.  But then when he won the World Series, we had a parade and there was a million people there.  Which one would you want to be in?  So for me, my motivation is not for me, it's for my team, my organization, and all the people that dedicate themselves and help us strive towards our goal.  I'm not going to say it doesn't mean anything.  I said that flippantly.  But it's obviously an honor and it validates some of the things that you went through.  But I want to make sure that everybody understands it's reflective of our whole organization and what we did this year.  I had something to do with it, no question, but so many other people did, that really goes unrecognized, I don't want that to happen.

Q.  What's the biggest challenge you're going to face with the guys having run.  Last year it was trying to get them to believe they would win.  Is the challenge this year to keep them hungry?
KIRK GIBSON:  It's certainly something I put a lot of thought into.  You guys know me, I constantly shake myself to remain humble.  Success is hard to deal with.  We've talked about it.  I'm not worried about it but yet I'm alert about it.  And it's something that we'll work on.  I feel pretty confident in the guys that we have in there.  I really like the way we rounded into shape this year, and what they accomplished and how they did it and how they pulled together.  And you could see that they're totally team guys.  And they're able to put their own personal things behind them.  It's something we'll remain alert from.  It could damage our chances if we can't remain humble.

Q.  Competition was a big theme in your camp last year, will that be the same this year?
KIRK GIBSON:  Innings.  It seems like everything is set, but it really never is in my mind.  If inning something else will make us better I'll push for it.  And at the same time, just because you're struggling, doesn't mean I'm going to pull the cord on you.  If you're doing things right and you're still doing things for us, I'm going to be your biggest supporter.  You guys have seen that.  I'm going to play everybody, whoever we've got on our team.  They're going to play.  And I know that when I tell the group in Spring Training just because you don't leave camp with us doesn't mean you don't have an impact on our team, they'll understand I'm not lying to them.  Our depth is very important to us.  And there will be some guys that don't leave camp with us next year that I expect will have a huge impact on our success.  I'm going to ask them.  Is it you?

Q.  A guy like Hiroki Kuroda, what do you think a guy could bring to your club?
KIRK GIBSON:  Tremendous.  He's a good pitcher.  Has a great track record, durable, solid.  Obviously his track record of over 200 innings, and inning we won 15 games for us.  I don't know if he's going to be with us.  There's speculation.  But certainly the kind of guy you're looking for.

Q.  Are you pushing Kevin to go get him?
KIRK GIBSON:¬† My conversation with Kevin is between him and I.¬† We're going to push to get better.¬† And we have conversations ‑‑ like the conversation today with Kevin and myself and many people inspect the organization, you just get off and these conversations go and go and go and they're tremendous.¬† And it's good stuff.¬† I don't think anybody in any organization should limit themselves in their creativity.
So we welcome that.  He welcomes that.  And we're trying to find a good fit and trying to make our team as good as it can be.  Everybody else is going to retool.  Last year we were under the radar, it's not going to be like that this year.  We understand that.

Q.  How pleased are you, having Aaron the full season?
KIRK GIBSON:¬† Aaron did a great job for us.¬† I like him.¬† Overall this whole ‑‑ the way we got Aaron Hill was that I felt that when Stephen Drew got hurt, I started playing Willie Bloomquist pretty regularly, and I didn't feel he was the same player after he played several days in a row.
So we had a coach's think tank meeting and KT and some of the guys came down, and I expressed to them what my concern was and so I wanted somebody to give him a blow occasionally.  And Charlie Nagy said how about Johnny Mac.  And it ended up with Aaron Hill and Johnny Mac coming to us.  And with the loss of Stephen Drew it allowed us to play at a faster speed by adding those two guys.
Aaron did a great job.  I love his work ethic.  It was certainly a Bret of pressure air for him.  He struggled in Toronto, I understand that.  I struggled in a different team, so I understand him.  We expect him to be better than last year.

Q.  What do you know about Iwakuma, the Japanese pitcher?
KIRK GIBSON:  What can you tell me about him?

Q.  A tall righty?
KIRK GIBSON:  You should talk to Kevin about that.

Q.  I'll try to.
KIRK GIBSON:¬† I mean, with the databases that I get into, it's something that I try to follow as many ‑‑ certainly all the players in our organization.¬† And then you get into other players in other organizations and internationally, actually, just something that I've started to do more often.¬† So I don't have a ton of familiarity at this point with the Japanese players, but we certainly recognize the impact that they could have, and again, we're trying to get better.

KIRK GIBSON:  I told you guys this when I watched the Reds the previous year, those come from behind victories, that's one thing I would like.  Because you always want your team to play hard and never give in.  Again, you're always looking for validation.  So I would expect that are we going to do it as many times?  We might not.  Maybe we won't have to.  Maybe we'll have more leads.
So it's part of it.  Collectively I don't really look at it as we've got to have the same amount of numbers or come from behind or 67 wins from our starters, just at the end of the day we're hoping that we get an opportunity to go so to the playoffs again and try to be world champions.

Q.  How do you think your personality rubbed off on your players?
KIRK GIBSON:  You'll have to ask them.

Q.  How do you think, though, as far as your passion and everything, communicating that to them?
KIRK GIBSON:  Well, again, inning you could ask them.  I had something to do with it.  I had a lot of guidance, I guess, to my true personality.  The one thing you guys overlook when I was a young player I wore things right out in the open and I would react to as a player.
As a manager, regardless of what happens, you're still the guy steering the boat, so to say.  So if you freak, you letting go of the rudder, who the hell knows where you're going to go.  The one thing I never did even though I was emotional as a player, I never lost my composure, relative to competition.  Bad as it gets, I still want to beat your ass. 
       So it's certainly a philosophy of mine, it was a goal of mine, and we developed that.  Was it all because of me?  No.  Not one thing we did was all because of Kirk Gibson.  But again, it was a collective effort, from my first conversation with Ken and KT last year in the fall, when they hired me, and then to get everybody to share their thoughts and for us to plug it in and decide what way we were going to go, for them to see it through.
       And most of all for me, the players, they embraced it.  I mean if that happens, they embrace the organization, what we threw out there, they're the ones that deserve all the credit.  I mean if you can get people to do that in any aspect of society you'll be way more protected and much better off.  Unfortunately this is the game of baseball, and much bigger things we deal with every day and it's not that way unfortunately.

Q.  You came off of 97 losses when you came in July 1st.  So you had top of the organization changes, you bring in a completely different coaching staff which gave you a lot of support.  But I would think that you as a younger manager who has now been through one full year, the experience that you had of success, yourself, in doing what you did and building on it, has to give you more confidence in the job that you're doing, doesn't it?
KIRK GIBSON:  I was hoping I would make better decisions.  I don't think the confidence is the proper word, because you're always confident.  I was confident when I came in.  We had discussions with you guys.  I you thought I was speaking garbage.  Who believed it?  I was out at MLB, and asked who picked this?  Were we on your radar?  I understand that.
So you have to have confidence and you have to have conviction in where you want to go.  I'm reading a book it's called the 6th sense of baseball.  You should read it, it's not out yet, but I'm proofreading it for a gentleman.  You guys know that I believe in visionary, a firming where I want to go, not where my fear is afraid I might go.  And certainly to get my team to think the same way.
We have a tendency to lock on to the negative things that happen to us in a baseball game or in life it's very dangerous.¬† And it's the easy way to go, okay?¬† I try to do just the opposite.¬† I'm like why not lock on to the golden nuggets.¬† I feel a lot better, so do they.¬† It gets us better for the next at‑bat.
To the next season, we're going to think that way.  We know it's not easy.  We know there's other teams out there.  I totally respect that.  But that's not going to alter my thought process and the organization's thought process.  We can do everything right and it won't workout, but that's our goal.

Q.  What's the word, if confidence is the wrong word, what's the right word?
KIRK GIBSON:  Well, I have limited experience.  So maybe to understand the mechanics of a Big League season.

Q.  As a manager?
KIRK GIBSON:  As a manager, yeah.  I felt like I dealt with it fine.  But, you know, it was the first time I went through a lot of this stuff.

KIRK GIBSON:  I haven't really gotten to that.  I obviously know the underlying questions with the lineup.  But we have a lot of time to figure that out.  Crank sent me a video of him that you evaluate off, I don't know what percent he was, 20 percent of his own body weight running.  He started doing that, and he has a hernia, but inning here at the beginning of the year he'll be totally weight bearing and start doing more agility stuff.  I know that I'll be cautious with him.  I want him to be really a hundred percent.  I'd rather him come out and be able to go a hundred percent than come out at 95 percent.  I want him to be free of any hesitation he might have.

KIRK GIBSON:  I talked to Crank.  We conference fairly frequently on all our issues.  Guys like Steven, and who's working out now.  And who I might need to talk to.  And who we're comfortable with.

Q.  Has the abdominal injury that he had in Spring Training, was that the start of the hernia?
KIRK GIBSON:  I don't know that.  You might assume that it is.  I don't know.

Q.  How confident are you that he's going to be back at full strength?
KIRK GIBSON:  I don't know.  Like I don't worry about things like that.  You have to be prepared to deal with it.  Nobody wants to lose Stephen Drew, but inning our mentality, you've got to do it a different way.  And if you're solid and you have good depth, you find a way.  We're looking forward to having Steven back.

Q.  Did Goldschmidt meet or surpass your expectations as a staff?
KIRK GIBSON:  You tell me.  He did an exceptional year for us.  It doesn't mean he'll be able to do the same thing.  Goldy is a very humble kid, very studious, and I expect that he's not taking anything for granted.  I know he wants to be a Gold Glover.  He has lofty goals, I promise you that.  But I'm working on some depth for him right now.  But we expect him to play quite a few games for us this year, and be very productive.

Q.  Looking at the market, there's a huge story in Japan about Yu Darvish.
KIRK GIBSON:¬† I don't know much about him.¬† I read what's written.¬† I've watched him.¬† He's obviously very talented.¬† I don't think that somebody that's probably that's in the Diamondback's future.¬† There's a big ‑‑ is he coming out or not?¬† Does he want to play or not?¬† Until he's over here, I don't have to worry about him, right?¬† Why are we writing about it, then?¬† He may be a great player, but I guess the hype ‑‑ I want to see it.
I hope he's great for the game.  I really do.  I wish every player that comes into this game all the best.  I like people to do it right and make great historic moments for the game.  If he does that, I tip my hat to him.

Q.  What happened after May 15th where that transition time and you talked about nobody picked you early.  But certainly through Spring Training and the first month and a half of the season it seemed to back people's opinions about where the Diamondbacks were going to be.  And then suddenly you started transitioning people out of the organization who didn't perform.  You replaced them with better people who did.
KIRK GIBSON:  Are you asking your question?

Q.  I'm leading you into the question.
KIRK GIBSON:  You've got your article written.
Look, we weren't very good in April, obviously, half of May.¬† We came out of May; we were two games after July.¬† We were eight up after August, right?¬† Or six up after August, eight up after September.¬† I mean so our August was pretty ‑‑ you look into May, I mean August was pretty good.

Q.  Right.
KIRK GIBSON:  Because we were matching up head to head.  We really started doing well in the division.

Q.  But I guess what I'm trying to get at is what was the turning point in your mind where the team started to wake up to what you wanted them to do?
KIRK GIBSON:¬† I don't know what the turning point was, we just clicked, started winning some games.¬† We lost those six in a row, we won 1‑0 on that one hit.¬† And then it was 15 out of 17 ‑‑ 17 out of 19?¬† That makes you feel good.¬† So just the things that we set out to do, we stayed with it.¬† And it started to pay off and we got some momentum and it carried through.

Q.  You said Goldschmidt wants to be a Gold Glover.  What do you see him needing to improve on?
KIRK GIBSON:¬† I think he should try to improve on everything, the consistency.¬† But if you saw what he was like in Spring Training, when he came to us, considerably better in all aspects.¬† Certainly defensively.¬† But then if you watched the way that he works every day you'll understand why.¬† And I give Lyle Overbay ‑‑ he did a really good job.¬† It's good to have better guys.¬† Our veteran guys really did a good job for us, Lyle, Henry Blanco, along with Clint Sherlock, exceptional.¬† And not just block owe had everybody coming in the morning at 6:15 in the morning for workouts.¬† Our veteran guys ‑‑ they were on board and they certainly had a huge impact on us.

Q.  In Spring Training, you think he had a chance to help you all?
KIRK GIBSON:  Yeah, we saw some really good things from him.  See, the way I look at it, and I always say, who's the guy this year?  I think that there's somebody this year, maybe somebody next year.  The opportunity is going to be there.  If you do things right and you're in the minor leagues and you produce and you understand what the philosophy of the organization is and you're able to execute that on a consistent basis, you'll play for us.  And that's what he did.  Brian Shaw, the same thing, we brought him up, sat him down, told him to work on a few things, he was with us the rest of the year.  He's a guy that was really green.  But he's very, very competitive.  He's got a very good makeup.  And he started 24 games for us?  Pretty good.  And big games, too.  Big games.
People who predict this isn't a good matchup ‑‑ he's really good.

Q.  Goldschmidt, didn't he have eight home runs in Spring Training?
KIRK GIBSON:¬† Yeah, and we put him in late in the game.¬† He had 15 or 25 ‑‑ he had about 10 game winners.¬† They didn't come early in the game, that's for sure.

Q.  Spring Training, did you talk about sliding?
KIRK GIBSON:  We tried to work on being better sliders, yeah.  I don't know exactly how we're going to do it.  But we're going to do it.  We'll figure out a way to make him understand the importance of sliding.

KIRK GIBSON:  Oh, definitely.  Just the communication thing at home plate.  I think we did a very good job.  We talked about it for the last couple of years.  Just on deck circles, on deck hitters, I don't think we did a good job of that.  But I think sliding has a lot to do it.  If you look at it, we slide over a lot of bases.  That's got to stop.  It's dangerous, No. 1, because you're going over the bag and have a chance to get injured.  And then you're going to be out.
And on the other hand, the good fielders, you slide and keep the glove there.  We didn't do a very good job with that.  The guy comes off, he's out, if you keep your glove there.  Just little details like that.  Those things should come naturally.

Q.  Does it strike you that a lot of veteran players are too late getting to signal the runner to come home.  Sometimes they give a signal and it's too late for the guy to decide?
KIRK GIBSON:  I'm going to speak for my observation is I think we can do better, yes.  And there's different components of that.  But it's something we will address.  We should be better, yes.

Q.  Parker coming up late in the season like that, how much does that help him going into 2012, having some understanding?
KIRK GIBSON:  We're going to find out.  I think it does.  We sent him down, brought him up at the end.  We've got to find out what his makeup was like.  He got in the game in Milwaukee, they got pretty hot real quick.  But I know he's highly motivated.  And Spring Training will be really good for him.  Inning he's probably going to be really excited.  He's come a long way since his elbow surgery.  He's got a long way to go.  We like him.  Everybody likes him.  Yeah, we need to get his ability and doing things consistently in the big leagues.  That's part of our challenge.  But I know he's on board, yeah.  We've got a lot of young kids that will be excited for spring, I'm looking forward to that part of it, we'll have some fun with them.

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