Gibson mum on D-backs' batting order
Goldschmidt is a lock for three-hole, otherwise manager will be flexible with lineup
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If D-backs manager Kirk Gibson is not well-rested come Thursday morning, you can blame the media for asking him lineup questions following Wednesday's workout.
After numerous questions involving different possible lineup combinations, Gibson had enough.
"Yeah, well, you guys shut up about it," Gibson said with a smile. "I don't need to be waking up at 2 [a.m.] thinking about it."
The Arizona lineup has a lot of flexible pieces and interchangeable parts, which can be a definite positive over a long season.
However it can also lead a manager to go a little nuts trying to find just the right combination, especially with all the statistics now available to teams.
"I know that there are comments made about me changing my lineups in the past, but there's some really good teams that do it and do it for the right reasons," Gibson said. "It makes sense to do it."
Indeed, teams like the A's have used flexible lineup pieces to build platoon advantages. The trick is balancing the benefit of an ever-shifting lineup with the need for players to have an idea of when they're going to be playing and where they will be hitting.
"Overall, we want to be flexible, we want to be able to move guys around," Gibson said. "At the same time, it's good if you can get a set lineup. I understand that."
There are two certainties when it comes to the D-backs lineup. One, Paul Goldschmidt will hit third. Two, the pitcher will hit ninth.
Past that and the fact that Gibson does not like to hit lefties back-to-back, well, you can mark the rest of the lineup down as to be determined.
The D-backs do not have a prototypical leadoff hitter and it could be left for some combination of the right-handed hitting A.J. Pollock and the lefty-swinging Gerardo Parra to man the spot.
"We'll get there," Gibson said of not having a traditional leadoff man. "I've been on teams before like that. Like the '84 Tigers, we had Lou Whitaker leading off and he was far from a leadoff hitter, and we won. We'll figure that part out."
Aaron Hill seems to be the natural fit in the second spot in the order given his production there during his time in Arizona.
"I think that's probably been his best spot for a while," Gibson said. "And by the way, he's swinging the bat very well. I watched him this morning in the cage and he came out and took early live [batting practice]."
With Goldschmidt hitting third, the D-backs could put slugger Mark Trumbo behind him in the fourth spot, or Gibson could elect to split up his powerful righties by putting Miguel Montero fourth and Trumbo fifth.
"I'm not going there," Gibson said when asked about the cleanup spot. "Just not going there. We'll have a lot of discussion about that. We have a lot of good baseball people and we'll talk about it. We'll start to get that together."
Some combination of Montero and Trumbo in the four/five slots leaves the No. 6 spot possibly for third baseman Martin Prado and then seventh being some combination of Pollock and Prado with whoever wins the shortstop battle conceivably hitting eighth.
Of course, if Cody Ross starts in right instead of Parra, or if Parra shifts to center for Ross to start, well then, it's anybody's guess how it will shake out.
In fact, Gibson at one point turned the tables on his inquisitors Wednesday.
"You guys can all submit your lineup," he said, telling the media to leave their lineups on his desk. "Just make sure you put your name on it."
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.