Kirk Gibson preaches ‘composure’ to Diamondbacks

Given his reputation as a player, one might expect the

managerial version of Kirk Gibson to be a walking tirade as his

Arizona Diamondbacks struggle to hold on to first place in the NL

West.

Instead, he’s talking about composure.

”I will never forget how hard it is to play this game, I can

tell you that,” Gibson said before Wednesday night’s game against

the Washington Nationals. ”And there’s a lot of good highlights

that are played about me – to ad nauseam – but the reality is I was

an average player that did some good things at a good time. And I

had a lot of (crummy) times. I totally understand and relate to

what they’re going through. And they’re trying and over-trying.

They get frustrated. The more that I’m in the game I realize that

that can be counterproductive.”

Gibson hasn’t been the perfect saint this season – he’s been

ejected three times – but his style has changed from that of the

fiery slugger who played 17 major league seasons and is most

remembered for his limp-around-the-bases trot after hitting the

winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

”I used to be really intense and went as hard at things as

anybody – and reacted to failure as violently as a person can do

it,” he said. ”And through this year, I’ve just done a lot of

reading over time and tried to understand how people approach

different situations, just try to be understanding. If I thought

there was a lack of effort as far as people are quitting, I would

be totally different. But that’s not the case. We’re just trying to

get through whatever it is we’re up against and keep our composure

and give ourselves a chance to succeed. I think a lack of composure

doesn’t give you a very good chance to succeed.”

Gibson said he’s made it a point to let his players and coaches

know that he wants input, a lesson he learned playing for Hall of

Fame manager Sparky Anderson. He even pulled out a fancy word –

scotoma – to explain the philosophy.

”Scotoma’s like a blind spot,” he said. ”Like I could be

looking at something I couldn’t see – it’s blind to me – but to you

guys it might be very clear.”

The Diamondbacks had a six-losing streak in which they weren’t

hitting a lick. Gibson’s solution: Arrive at the ballpark late and

skip batting practice – and stop overanalyzing videos of every

swing. It worked so well Tuesday when his team ended the skid with

a win over the Nationals that he tried it again Wednesday – no BP

for the second day in a row.

”Hitting’s a lot of feel. It’s not as technical as it’s talked

about,” he said. ”It’s not that it isn’t, but I know that people

try to figure things out by watching film and slowing, going back

and forth, and `Oh, my hands are an inch different here.’ I don’t

think it matters; I don’t think that’s the problem. It’s kind of a

feel. It’s really more of putting yourself into position to be able

to take a good pass at the ball.”

Follow Joseph White at: twitter.com/JGWhiteAP