D-backs sticking with Gibson on two-year pact

D-backs sticking with Gibson

PHOENIX -- During each of the 83 games he managed on an interim basis in 2010, Kirk Gibson kept notes on the back of his lineup card. Some were of positive things that happened, but most were about situations the team would need to handle better in 2011.

Gibson would then transfer those notes onto his computer, vowing that if he got the job on a full-time basis, the D-backs would work at correcting the negative ones.

The D-backs removed the interim tag from Gibson's title Monday as they named him the fifth permanent manager in franchise history. Gibson received a two-year contract with a club option for 2013.

The team also announced that Jerry Dipoto, who had filled the GM position on an interim basis before Kevin Towers was hired last month, would remain with the organization as senior vice president of scouting and player development.

While Gibson and Dipoto are coming back, not all of the members of the coaching staff will be as the team announced only first-base coach Matt Williams and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock were asked to return in 2011.

Bench coach Bo Porter and hitting coach Jack Howell were dismissed, while pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and third-base coach Jack Youngblood were offered other positions in the organizations. Youngblood accepted, while Stottlemyre is said to be thinking it over.

The day, though, belonged to Gibson, who won a pair of World Series Championships and was known as the ultimate competitor during a 17-year career in the Majors.

"My aspirations have always been as a player to be a world champion," said Gibson, who is most remembered for his game-winning homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. "I'm going to shoot that high in everything that I do. That's still my goal."

The D-backs have a long way to go to get to that point. They finished the 2010 season with a 65-97 record and a second straight last-place finish in the NL West.

Next spring, Gibson plans on going through every one of those situations that he wrote down on the back of his lineup cards.

"We'll have simulated situations," Gibson said. "I've written all the good and all the bad down of every game that I've managed so far. We'll recreate every one of those situations. It'll be full gorilla. It'll be live. We did a lot of practicing in the past at half speed, quarter speed, and that's great for the first couple of times, but when we get in shape, we're going to practice it full go because that's how it happens on the diamond. We'll practice all these plays we didn't execute and we'll be better prepared to handle pressure much better."

As he said that his voice became more impassioned and Towers, who was sitting next to Gibson at the podium, made eye contact with team president/CEO Derrick Hall and managing general partner Ken Kendrick and the pair shared a big smile.

After taking over as GM, Towers said he wanted to spend time during the team's final road trip getting to know Gibson before making a decision on whether to retain him. The pair spent hours together in San Francisco talking baseball philosophy.

When the team opened a three-game series in Los Angeles on Friday, Towers said he had pretty much decided on Gibson, though despite published reports, the two sides did not agree on a contract until Monday morning.

"I like winning-type players, he was a winning-type player," Towers said of Gibson. "He has tremendous passion and he wants to turn this thing around as quickly as I do. Preparation I think is very important, attention to detail, probably a lot of things that a lot of you don't know about him. I'm excited that this is the gentleman that is going to be leading this organization and take it to the places that I think the fans as well as myself ultimately get to."

Gibson took over the managerial reins on July 1 when A.J. Hinch was dismissed and he drew wide praise within the organization for the way he changed the culture of the clubhouse. Gibson asked a lot of the players and he also became a favorite of management for the way he has encouraged players to sign autographs and appear at charity events.

They will be pushed even more in 2011 and Gibson said during the season that if he returned as manager, what he would expect might be too hard for some of the current players.

"I did have one team meeting after a game, where I expressed the way I thought and they weren't real happy with me," Gibson said of his players. "I didn't expect them to be. It didn't make a lot of sense to them on that night, but I think after the game [Sunday], if we all look back on and reflect on it, I think most of them understood what I was talking about. That's just one of many things. We're going to have more meetings to come. I told several of our players that if I was back it would be a little different next year. I was serious. It's about a commitment from, really the whole organization, to what to do to change things. What we've gone through is not fun. It's miserable. It's not why anyone is here."

Gibson made that very clear Monday.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.