NL West contenders? Gibson likes them all

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Kirk Gibson picked his top NL West contenders Tuesday.
 
It is a long list.
 
“I consider everybody to be that way,” said Gibson as his Diamondbacks prepare their title defense.
 
“You get in trouble” when you select one top contender, he said. “Then you let your guard down against someone else. They all try. They are all working very hard.”

Someone mentioned San Francisco, the 2010 World Series winner.
 
“Time will tell. We know their pitching is good. We don’t take them lightly. We don’t take anyone lightly,” said Gibson before the D-backs’5-4 loss to Colorado at Salt River Field.

On Tuesday, San Francisco had the lowest odds among the West teams to win the World Series at 12 ½-1, according to the website covers.com. The D-backs were listed at 22-1, the second choice in the NL West. Philadelphia was 4 ½-1 to win the Series, the overall favorite and the only NL team listed ahead of San Francisco. St. Louis, Cincinnati and Atlanta were the NL teams ranked between the Giants and D-backs.
 
Allpro.com listed the Giants as a 7/5 favorite to win the NL West, just ahead of the D-backs at 8/5. Colorado was 9/2, Los Angeles was 11/2 and San Diego was 30-1.
As the D-backs showed last season, preseason predictions mean squat.
 
‘Nobody knows who is going to be the team. Look at the past several years. You can speculate all you want. In my mind, they are all good,’ Gibson said.
 
“People maybe don’t understand how strong the division is.”

Gibson was asked about the new playoff format, in which one more wild card team was added. The two wild card teams will meet in a one-game playoff, with the winner meeting the NL division champion with the Best record in the next round.
 
“Honestly, it doesn’t do anything for me,” he said.
 
“I’m going to try to win the division. If that is a fall-back stance, then we will utilize it. Broader, we want to make the playoffs to give ourselves a chance to do what the Cardinals did last year. That’s our goal. We’re not expecting anything easy.”
 
PARRA POWER
 
In a perfect world, Gerardo Parra would be able to consistently pull with power to right field and would be a nice fit in center field on the days Chris Young needs a day off.

Parra handled both challenges in his first start in center field Monday, homering down the right-field line and making a diving catch of a liner to short left-center. He also doubled.
 
” ‘G’ is always motivated,” Gibson said.
 
TUESDAY PROBABLES
 
Joe Saunders is scheduled to make his first start of the spring when the D-backs play host to Texas for the only time this spring at Salt River Fields. Mike Zagurski, Evan Marshall, Chris Jakubauskas and Mike DeMark also are scheduled to pitch for the D-backs.

Marshall, a right-hander from Kansas State, made a swift rise through the system after being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He was 0-1, 1.16 with 31 strikeouts and seven walks in 31 regular-season innings with Class A Visalia and Class AA Mobile before throwing five scoreless innings in the postseason, converting both of the champion BayBears’ save opportunities.

NOTES

Gibson, his staff and a half-dozen players are scheduled to wear microphones when the D-backs play host to Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon. Indians manager Manny Acta and several of his players also will be miked as part of the MLB Network’s live broadcast. Matt Vasgergian will announce the game, but most of the audio will be supplied by the players. … The D-backs hit off a right-handed curve ball machine on the back fields Tuesday morning, a drill that Gibson used much of last spring and carried into the regular season before some home games. “It’s something I believe in,” he said. “How do you learn to hit a breaking ball? Sometimes it is not a pitch you are going to drive. How do you get a piece of it and foul it off and get something you can hit?” The D-backs had worked off the machine in the batting cages earlier in spring, but it was time they took it to the field. … Chris Young, Miguel Montero and Willie Bloomquist were given a regular day off Monday, while Geoff Blum (knee) and Rusty Ryal (groin) remained out for a second straight day.

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