Despite extensions Gibson, Towers still under microscope in 2014

Arizona Sports News online

Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks could be spotted wearing gray warm-up t-shirts which read, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

General manager Kevin Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and the Diamondbacks front office re-tooled the 2012 roster with “grinders” and  team-first players in hopes of changing the culture both on the field and in the clubhouse. After a quick start last spring Arizona sputtered to an 81-81 finish, the exact same record as the year before.

Earlier this month both Towers and Gibson were given contract extensions at least through the remainder of 2014. The club did not announce if the deals extended beyond this season.

“We’ve worked hard in the off-season to put a team together, to get the leadership in place,” managing general partner Ken Kendrick explained to’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “We’ve made some changes in the coaching staff…we think we have a solid group to support Gibby. We think we put a club together that can really compete…at the end, based how it all turns out I have a responsibility to evaluate the outcome.”

In short, get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Many around baseball believe, although Gibson and Towers were extended, the leash for each is short and a slow start could spell doom for one or both.

The pressure has been turned up even higher in the National League West where the defending champion and nemesis Dodgers look strong again. The Giants, if their bats come around, are expected to have a bounce back season, while the Padres could be one of the bigger surprises in the National League.

The winter produced a big bat in Mark Trumbo who was brought over from the Angels and a possible closer in hard-throwing Addison Reed who could supplant J.J. Putz at the back-end of a bullpen which figures to be better than last year. Let’s be honest, they couldn’t be much worse. Trumbo is expected to add protection in the lineup to Paul Goldschmidt who is coming off a breakthrough season in 2013.

Kendrick is looking forward to sitting back and watching the science experiment unfold.

“Now I get to be like everybody else, a fan, and see what they can do.”