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Kirk Gibson pushing the right buttons in Arizona

Apr 7, 2012, 4:56 PM EDT

Kirk Gibson Getty Images

Kirk Gibson appeared in over his head at times in the postseason last year, but now he’s back demonstrating why he was the 2011 NL Manager of the Year in the first two games of 2012.

After not using him there all spring, Gibson inserted Chris Young into the second spot in the order Friday against Tim Lincecum. Young made it pay off in a hurry, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning as part of Arizona’s 5-4 victory.

With the Giants going to a left-hander in Madison Bumgarner today, Aaron Hill moved back into the No. 2 spot, with Young batting fifth. Hill was the Diamondbacks’ regular No. 2 hitter last season after arriving in the Kelly Johnson trade and did a great job, but he slumped all spring and was dropped to eighth Friday. Given his career numbers, that’s closer to where he belongs against righties. Versus lefties, though, he is a decent enough choice to hit second. And he’s looked more than decent today, homering in his first two at-bats to drive in three of the Diamondbacks’ four runs so far.

In this day and age of everyone always wanting to know their role, it can be difficult for managers to try to play matchups and mess with their lineups. Fortunately, Gibson commands a whole lot of respect in the Arizona clubhouse and his players seem well in tune with his choices. Batting Hill second against lefties and low in the order against righties makes a whole lot of sense. It might not be a permanent arrangement — there’s really no need for anything to be a permanent arrangement — but it’s certainly worked for the Diamondbacks for two games.

  1. nauhurdler - Apr 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    D-backs!!!! Defend that NL West title!

  2. vanmorrissey - Apr 7, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Dbacks will be tough and should win the West again. That’s a really good team flying under the radar and would not be surprised they with the NL crown this year. Two games, whoopee, I get it, but they got better over the winter and with that coaching staff they’ll be in it the whole year.

  3. mgflolox - Apr 7, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Gibson’s players certainly respect him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they also feared him a little bit. He’s always been a tough, intense sonuvabitch.

  4. js20011041 - Apr 7, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    The idea idea of players needing to know their role is a joke. I understand that a large part of the job is managing egos, but whenever a player tells a manager that he needs to know his role, the standard response should be “your role is to sit your ass on the bench today.” Why does it even matter where you bat? A batter’s “role” no matter where he is hitting is to get on base. The same goes for relief pitchers. If you can’t possibly be expected to pitch without knowing beforehand which inning you’re going to be coming in to, you probably shouldn’t be playing professional sports.

  5. vols84 - Apr 7, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    mgflolox-I think you are right

    • Old Gator - Apr 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      After the famous “shoe polish” incident in spring training back in 1988, Gibson threw such a fit that everyone on that team was scared shitless of him. His message was, basically, hey, that’s the kind of thing a bunch of losers do. You can’t win ballgames but you can play stupid tricks. Well, I don’t intend to play with or for losers. And his message sank in – he led by example as well as with his blessed irascibility. And by the time David Cone shot his mouth off and made his famous “little league” comment heading into the playoffs that year, Gibson had helped mold a bunch of off-the-corner scrappers and roughhousers who crammed his contempt down his, and the Mutts’, throats. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the World Champion 1988 Dodgers. If there’s a manager alive who can take the Snakes all the way, he’s it.

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