Don’t tell Kirk Gibson and Dusty Baker that Spring Training games don’t mean anything. The managers of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds engaged in a heated discussion before Monday’s preseason game at Salt River Field in Scottsdale, AZ. As written by Steve Gilbert, who covers the D’backs at mlb.com, the issue involved using a designated hitter for the game. Baker wanted a DH spot so as to allow Shin-Soo Choo to get some at-bats while resting his injured quadriceps. Gibson preferred the traditional National League affair as to allow starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to get a turn or two at the plate as he acclimates himself to hitting after coming over from the American League. In these Spring Training contests, the home team has the final say and the game was played without a DH. Baker did not take too kindly to Gibby’s decision so the skippers had some words behind home plate as the lineup cards were exchanged. At the end of the discussion, Gibson extended his hand to Baker but Dusty refused to shake it. It remains to be seen if this has any carry-over to when the two teams meet for real in June.
Kirk Gibson was not smiling before Monday’s game against the Reds. Image: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
You could easily see why both managers were so animated in their positions. However, once Gibson decided to that he wasn’t budging from his stance, Baker should have just backed off. I understand that the courtesy of playing by different rules in opposing ballparks takes place from time to time. However, I do not blame Gibby for being so steadfast in wanting McCarthy to get some AB’s. The right-hander could have as many as 60-75 plate appearances in 2013 after having a grand total of 10 in his previous seven seasons. There will be times when he will be asked to do more than lay down a bunt. Who wants to have their pitcher become an automatic out? McCarthy needs as many repetitions as possible because during the early part of Spring Training, he may get at most three meaningful swings per start.
Monday’s dustup could be the result of two hard-nosed, prideful former World Series champion players that bring their edginess to their current positions. Before June, the two teams actually meet in the final two preseason games for both teams at Chase Field March 29th and 30th. I can’t imagine there will be any carry-over effect between the two men at the end of the month. When June 21st arrives, they can even share a meal before the game.
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