BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks have extended the contracts of manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers.
Contracts for both had been set to expire after the coming season. The team would not divulge the lengths of the contracts or even whether the lengths were the same for both.
Team President Derrick Hall said after Monday’s announcement that Gibson and Towers asked that the length of the deals be kept secret.
“I don’t understand why the contracts of people in management are public knowledge,” Towers said. “It’s between myself, Derrick, (managing general partner) Ken (Kendrick) and Gibby.”
Last October, the team declined to exercise options to extend both contracts, but Hall said he has felt all along that the Diamondbacks shouldn’t go into the season with the two facing the last year of their deals.
“There’s constant distraction and a labeling of who’s on the hot seat,” Hall said, “Are they feeling the pressure?”
Besides, Hall said, “These are guys I have a lot of confidence in.”
In fact, Hall said he probably would have preferred to have the extensions in place sooner.
He said that when the contracts weren’t extended last fall, it was with the understanding that there would be talks on a new deal for both.
Gibson and Towers have had three full seasons together, and their most successful was their first.
The Diamondbacks won 94 games in 2012 and took the NL West title before falling to Milwaukee in five games in the divisional playoffs. Arizona has gone 81-81 each of the past two seasons.
“I’m certainly very excited,” Towers said, “as is Gibby. This is a place where we hope we get to spend the rest of our careers at.”
Gibson, a standout football player at Michigan State, played 17 seasons in the majors, 12 with the Detroit Tigers. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, earning the NL most valuable player award. In the playoffs that season, he hit one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history.
Playing virtually on one leg because of a severe knee injury, Gibson hit a game-winning, two-run home run off Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley in Game 1, limping around the bases and pumping his fist in triumph. The Dodgers went on to win the series.
Gibson was hired as Arizona’s bench coach in 2007 and was named interim manager when A.J. Hinch was fired on July 1, 2010. Towers, former GM of the San Diego Padres, came on board as general manager in September of that year, and one of his first decisions was whether to keep Gibson as manager.
He did and the team went on to have that highly successful 2010 season. But the Diamondbacks stumbled the next two seasons in the vastly improved NL West, with pitching-rich San Francisco winning in 2012 and the just-plain-rich Dodgers taking it in 2013.
Towers said he wants to develop “a ball club that not only has a chance to win the NL West but hopefully go deep into the postseason.”
“I don’t take these things lightly,” he said. “There are only 30 of these jobs.”
He said that the jobs “aren’t easy” and require the confidence of the club’s top executives and ownership.
Towers said that going into the final year of a contract probably would have been more of a distraction for Gibson, given the high public profile of the manager’s job and his duties directing a team’s day-to-day operation.
Pitchers and catchers report for spring training at the Diamondbacks’ Scottsdale facility on Thursday. They are the first team to begin spring training because of Arizona’s early season-opening two-game series against the Dodgers in Australia.
Towers has said the team wants to acquire a No. 1 starter, but added on Monday “there’s not too many of those guys out there.”
“The market’s not the same as it was two months ago,” he said.
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