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Gibson easing players in to closer competition

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There will be a competition for the role of D-backs closer this spring.

Just not quite yet.

With J.J. Putz, Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez apparently candidates to close, manager Kirk Gibson said Thursday that he wanted them to take their time getting their arms in shape before the evaluation process begins.

"My goal for our pitchers is to get them all to throw the ball the way they're capable of throwing it and to be able to throw with confidence," Gibson said. "Then we'll figure [the closer] out. I don't really want them to come out here tomorrow and try to impress me because they want to be the closer."

Putz has been the team's primary closer since 2011, but during an injury-plagued 2013 season he was replaced by Ziegler, who did a nice job in the role.

Hernandez struggled last season after posting outstanding seasons in 2011 and 2012, during which time he was looked at as the closer of the future.

Reed came over from the White Sox -- where he was 40-for-48 in converting saves -- in a surprise trade this offseason.

"We've got the schedule laid out for good reason," Gibson said. "I want them to go out and throw their pitches, get their delivery together, get efficient with it. We're going take our time and be patient with that."

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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