Kubel also proving to be threat with his arm

Kubel also proving to be threat with his arm

PHOENIX -- Though he told people when Spring Training started that left fielder Jason Kubel was better defensively than he got credit for, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson did not realize just how good he was.

"I always thought of him more from his offensive side," Gibson said. "I think everybody did. I can tell you I don't think we evaluated his arm as good as it's been."

While his arm might not be of the caliber of Gerardo Parra when it comes to pure strength, Kubel makes up for it with good footwork, a quick release and an accurate throw.

Kubel leads the National League in outfield assists with 11, which ties him with Toronto's Jose Bautista for the most in the Majors.

Kubel threw out the Dodgers' Mark Ellis trying to score on James Loney's flyout to end the top of the seventh inning on Friday and help preserve the D-backs' 5-3 win.

When Kubel was signed as a free agent during the offseason, the D-backs talked mainly about his offensive potential and what he would mean to the lineup.

"I think everybody was thinking about the bat honestly," Gibson said. "This is probably one of his better years defensively. He doesn't have a ton of foot speed. He's very studious, almost on every pitch moving around and understanding what's going on. He has great footwork, he gets around the ball properly, you don't see him throw things out of control. He has no panic in his game at all offensively or defensively."

Kubel's previous high for outfield assists in a season was nine, set last year, and he credits his former teammate with the Twins, Torii Hunter, for teaching him how to get rid of the ball quickly.

"Just more opportunities," Kubel said about the increase this year. "Just plenty of opportunities, and I've had a lot of easy ones."