Skipper Kirk Gibson igniting Diamondbacks to contention in NL West
Diamondbacks coach Kirk Gibson is trying to have as much success as a coach as he did in his playing days. The D-backs lost to the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Sunday and dropped their second straight game. But going into the contest, Gibson had his 43-36 Diamondbacks in better shape that they had been earlier in the year. The Diamondbacks are 28-15 since getting swept by the Giants in early May. Among all teams since May 13, their 28 wins is tops in the majors.
Detroit, MI, United States
June 28, 2011 03:51 pm EDT
Sports, Baseball, Major League Baseball - American League
The Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves battling the defending world champion San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League's West Division and the leadership of manager Kirk Gibson has played no small role in leading his team to the status of contender.
The Diamondbacks lost to the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Sunday and dropped their second straight game. But going into the contest, Gibson had his 43-36 Diamondbacks in better shape that they had been earlier in the year.
Gibson, who played huge roles in World Series championship seasons for the Tigers in 1984 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, is in his first full season as the D-backs manager. He signed a two-year contract to become Arizona's sixth manager in team history last October through 2012 with an option for 2013.
He took over the team in an interim basis in 2010 and had a 34-49 record. His overall mark is 78-85.
The Diamondbacks are 28-15 since getting swept by the Giants in early May. Among all teams since May 13, their 28 wins is tops in the Majors.
Arizona climbed to first place in the National League West on May 29 despite trailing by 6.5 games through April 30.
The Elias Sports Bureau reported that the Diamondbacks became the first team in the MLB to get sole possession of first place in their league or division since 1969 during May despite coming in the month with a deficit of at least 6.5 games.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he was impressed with Arizona's style of play.
“They're aggressive in all phases of the game, like their manager,” he said. “You tip your hat off to them.”
Arizona third baseman Ryan Roberts likes his team's chances of competing in the National League West and gives Gibson credit for the Diamondbacks' current status as divisional contenders.
“He has the aggressive give 100 percent style and gets everybody on board where giving 100 percent is the main thing and not leaving anything out,” Roberts said.
“You never want to walk off the field and wish you could have done something better. He definitely is aggressive and keeps things going, is rowdy and keeps everybody upbeat and positive. He does a lot more to the game for players' emotions on our team to stay up and stay motivated.”
On Sunday in Detroit, Gibson watched as his former manager with the Tigers, the late Sparky Anderson, was honored in pregame ceremonies and had his No. 11 retired.
“He was very convincing and we all knew he was the boss,” Gibson said. “He did things differently than you do it today. His point was if you're not with our program, you're not going to be a part of it. That's been instilled in me, certainly by him, in challenging people.”
Gibson, in the early 1980s, was struggling to become an established Major League player. He wound up playing a key role in world championship teams with the Tigers and Dodgers in 1988. But Gibson acknowledged that he had to earn Anderson's respect and had some down moments in 1983 when he didn't bat against left-handers for awhile.
“Sparky was a giver, he didn't like takers,” Gibson said. “He had several conversations with me and several exercises with me to get me to be professional, I guess, and show me how to treat people and treat situations and to realize what an honor it was to wear the uniform. I didn't understand any of those things when I came in. I bought into it for awhile. He brought me to my knees in 1983. We won a World Series in 1984 and it's 2011 and now it all makes sense.”
Gibson watched the ceremonies honoring Anderson while sitting on the Arizona bench with his bench coach and another former Tiger great, Alan Trammell.
“It's great he'll be honored and his number will be retired,” Gibson said. “We miss him.”
Meanwhile Gibson is focusing on his team's bid to contend this season.
Roberts said his team's two straight losses over the Tigers weren't reason for any type of concern.
“It's up and down, that's how baseball goes. Everybody goes through times when they struggle a little bit,” Roberts said. “When you're hot, you can go south as quick as you go positive. You have to keep playing, keep swinging, watch video and do whatever you can.
“We're playing good baseball and we're going to lose games and win close games. We'll just keep moving forward.”
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