Gibson has changes planned for D-backs in '11
More rigorous Spring Training among alterations to renew culture
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kirk Gibson hasn't decided on a lineup yet, but one thing the D-backs' manager does know is that things will be different in his clubhouse come 2011.
When D-backs players assemble in Scottsdale, Ariz., for Spring Training, they can expect to hear from Gibson that the shooting of toy pellet guns in the clubhouse, a favorite pastime last year, will be among those things banned -- along with the flying of toy airplanes.
"You guys were in there last year when they had the toy guns," Gibson said. "I mean, that's bull. How could you even think about it? Stuff like that is a thing of the past, trust me. If you want to go play toys, you're in the wrong spot. I tell you, this is the basic criteria. If you can convince me that it would help make us a better team, I'll let you do it, OK. But if you want to fly your toy airplane, you can stay home an extra hour. I'd rather have you come in an hour later and be prepared and ready to get to the baseball-related activities and preparation.
"I think just paying attention to details is the right thing. Committed. Together. I didn't see a connection that I think we need to have. You've been in the clubhouse. I'm not going to get into detail about it, but there are some things that are going to change in there. It's nonnegotiable. We need to go in there at a certain time, lock in, and be ready to prepare for the game. And there is nothing else we have to do from that time on."
The D-backs have plenty of changes to make in their performance as well after two straight last-place finishes in the National League West. Last year's team went 65-97, and Gibson took over on an interim basis when manager A.J. Hinch was dismissed -- along with general manager Josh Byrnes -- on July 1.
Known for his hard-nosed style of play during a 17-year big league career, Gibson said he learned a lot of lessons from Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson when it came to setting the right tone in the clubhouse.
"Virtually, what he taught us with Sparky was you're on my program, our program, or you're not," Gibson said. "If you're not, you're not a part of the program. Again, the game has changed, and it's not that easy where I understand you can't just say you're not in the program and we'll get rid of you. I will address it. I will confront it."
This will be Gibson's first Spring Training as manager and he plans on having a lot of drills run at full speed, something that teams are reluctant to do because of the injury risk.
"We'll go through the walk-through and the coaches are on the bases, but we'll also go through executing plays at full speed, at the risk of hurting somebody," Gibson said. "But that is, in part, your responsibility also. You have to be under control and you have to take care of yourself. That's how you play the game."
Gibson said he has talked with right fielder Justin Upton recently about the fact that his name was bandied about in trade rumors after GM Kevin Towers said last month he was open to listening to offers for the 23-year-old.
The D-backs said they needed to be overwhelmed in order to make a deal, and it appears that never happened as Towers said he is not going to deal Upton.
"Wanted to make sure that he understood that there is nothing negative about what was said about him," Gibson said. "I believe in him, we believe in him. There is no one player that we could go out and acquire that would be greater than Justin Upton. We talked about it. He understands that.
"We've had several conversations about the fact that he's basically played 130, 132 games the last two years, and that's not enough. He's too valuable to not be able to play. We want to make an attempt at trying to have a different workout routine for him. Stretching, strengthening and conditioning to where we can get him on the field for 150-plus games a year. He understands that. He's committed to that."
Gibson, for now, is not committing to a lineup. He mentioned Chris Young, Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson as leadoff possibilities, but said he will continue to play with different ideas before talking about it further.
"We'll see who is there in the lineup," Gibson said. "Again, I think it's early in the offseason. I know I've talked to Kevin a lot, and we have different thoughts on different things."