Gibson: 'No problem' with lack of contract extension
D-backs skipper to meet with coaching staff soon to discuss Spring Training
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Some managers are uncomfortable going into the final year of their contracts without an extension.
The D-backs' Kirk Gibson is not one of them.
Managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall elected not to exercise the 2015 contract options for Gibson or general manager Kevin Towers following a second straight 81-81 season, but Gibson said that will not influence how he manages.
"I have no problem with it," he said Monday during his media session at the Winter Meetings. "I like the people I work with, I love the organization, the city, the fans."
Gibson and Towers both received contract extensions following the 2011 season when the D-backs won the National League West.
"When Ken and Derrick called me in after 2011, they didn't have to do that, they gave me an extension then," Gibson said. "And I have a contract for next year. I've got no problem with that, isn't changing anything. When I was a player, for six years I signed six one-year contracts. And we think what we're going to do to be productive and get better and win ballgames. The opportunity is still there. I think now that's taken care of, we can move on to more important things."
Gibson will meet with his staff next week to discuss Spring Training. A few tweaks are common from year to year when it comes to how camps are run, but the D-backs figure to have bigger changes this year for a couple of reasons.
One, they have several new coaches on staff, and two, they will need to be ready to play a pair of regular-season games against the Dodgers in Australia on March 22-23.
"We'll do some things a little differently," Gibson said. "Pitching, again, with the Australia trip it's going to be tricky. What do you do with your pitching to get them ready? Who do you get ready for that start in Australia against the Dodgers? And how does that affect what's going to go on the beginning of April as well?"
Speaking of the Dodgers, Gibson was asked about the possibility there would be a brawl with the Dodgers in that Opening Series given the bad blood that seems to exist between the two organizations.
Gibson said his focus is on winning the games not on extracurricular activities.
"I think there's a good rivalry," Gibson said. "We're within each other's division, we play each other a lot. It's fierce, the way it should be. And we compete the way we should compete. And we're not the only team that's got into disagreements with our opponent. It's part of baseball. I think you always try to stay within being reasonable and within the parameters of the game."
One decision Gibson will face when camp opens in early February is who will be the team's closer.
J.J. Putz was the Arizona closer in 2011 and 2012, but last year injury issues limited him and the club moved Brad Ziegler into the closer's role after the All-Star break.
Ziegler wound up going 8-1 with 13 saves and a 2.22 ERA, and Gibson said he was open-minded when it came to who would close in 2014.
"His changeup has come a long way, slider has come a long way," Gibson said of Ziegler. "He's certainly capable. I don't know that we've decided wholeheartedly who is going to be our closer next year, but we have options."
Over the past few springs, Gibson has emphasized fundamentals, but this year the tack might be a little different. To help in that regard, he has been reading former NBA coach Phil Jackson's book "Eleven Rings."
"These guys, the fundamental part of the game, I think they understand it very well, and they do it very well," Gibson said. "It's kind of the 'we' part we have to work on. You have to stay within yourself. You have to continue to analyze and play the game and respond to the situations as a team, not as an individual, as a team."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.