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Asked about Tigers' job, Gibson committed to D-backs

Asked about Tigers' job, Gibson committed to D-backs

Asked about Tigers' job, Gibson committed to D-backs

PHOENIX -- Ask D-backs manager Kirk Gibson about the influence Jim Leyland had on his career, and Gibson could talk all day long about him.

Ask if he's interested in replacing him, and the conversation is much shorter: Gibson does not plan on going anywhere.

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Gibson was hired as the interim manager in July 2010, and he had the tag removed after the season when Kevin Towers took over as general manager. Gibson stated his goal at that time was to bring a World Series championship to Arizona.

"Since I came here, my goals have not changed," Gibson said. "Simple as that. We were 81-81 and that's not good enough, so we're going to make it better."

The D-backs won the National League West in 2011, and Towers and Gibson were both given extensions that run through '14. The club held options for 2015 and '16, but it declined to pick them up following this season.

D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall cautioned against reading anything into the fact that the options weren't picked up.

"We're very happy with both of them," Hall said of Towers and Gibson. "They're under contract, and they can still be extended. It's not a big deal. We're all on the same page."

Leyland stepped down as Tigers manager on Monday, and there was immediate speculation about Gibson as a possible replacement.

On the one hand, there is good reason for that since Gibson is a Michigan native who played parts of 12 seasons in Detroit and was a member of the Tigers' last championship team in 1984.

However, it is also worth noting that Gibson served as bench coach for Alan Trammell in Detroit from 2003-05, and the pair were let go following that season. It is believed that while neither side will say so publicly, there are still hard feelings about the dismissals.

Hall, Towers and Gibson are taking part this week at the D-backs' annual executive retreat, and when he heard the news about Leyland, Hall said he asked Gibson if he was interested in the Tigers' job.

"He said this is where he wants to be," Hall said. "And this is where we want him to be. So there's no reason to even talk about it."

Leyland was Gibson's first manager in the Minor Leagues, and Gibson gives Leyland a lot of credit for his development from an athlete playing baseball to a baseball player.

Gibson was drafted by the Tigers in the first round (12th overall) in the 1978 Draft, and while Detroit agreed to let him play football for Michigan State in the fall, it asked him to play Minor League Baseball that summer for the Florida State League team in Lakeland, Fla., which was managed by Leyland.

"He had a great influence on me from the day he picked me up at the airport in Florida in 1978," Gibson said. "He basically reamed me out. Told me he didn't care what I had done already and I shouldn't either. He told me I had a long way to go, and his job was to make me a big leaguer and a damn good one. I looked at him and basically said, 'Bring it on.' He told me I had to be at the park every day at 8 a.m., and he worked me out and then I had to come back and work out later with the team."

The next year, the Tigers promoted Gibson to Triple-A Evansville, where he again was managed by Leyland.

"Same deal went," Gibson said about the early-morning workouts. "It was hot out there at 8 a.m., but he had me out there. That's the relationship we had, he pushed me hard, but at the same time, he was sensitive when he needed to be sensitive. He was instrumental in me getting to experience some of the things I got to experience in my career."

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.

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