07/21/10 9:42 PM ET
No official closer named for D-backs
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Apparently, it depends on the day.
On Tuesday, right-hander Juan Gutierrez came in to pitch the ninth with a 3-1 lead and allowed a homer before getting out of it. Gutierrez has been credited with both the saves the team has compiled since interim manager Kirk Gibson took over.
So that would make him the closer, right?
"I'm not naming a closer," Gibson said.
Instead, Gibson sits down 40 minutes prior to each game with pitching coach Todd Stottlemyre and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock to go over how they will use their relievers that day.
"That was his call last night and I supported it," Gibson said of Stottlemyre's recommendation that Gutierrez close Tuesday's game. "I may overrule him tonight, I may go with him. In general, he knows a lot more about pitching than I do. I trust him and go with his feel quite a bit."
Gutierrez, Aaron Heilman and Chad Qualls have all saved games for the D-backs this year. Qualls started out the year in the role, but has struggled to find any consistency and entered Wednesday's game with an 8.35 ERA.
'Gibby Ball' encouraging D-backs to run
PHOENIX -- Since Kirk Gibson took over as interim manager July 1, the D-backs have tried to run the bases more aggressively and hitters ahead in the count, 3-0, have been given the green light.
Call it "Gibby Ball."
"I don't think it's necessarily guys trying harder, I think he's really been pushing guys locking into situations, pay attention on the basepaths, paying attention to the signs," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "Early on, we were missing quite a few signs that could have cost us some runs. His big thing is focus on the task in front of us and pay attention to the game, and guys are buying into that. I think that's his big push right now -- to get all of us a little more active."
Gibson has encouraged his players to be more aggressive in stealing bases. An example came during the team's series in San Diego over the weekend, when Kelly Johnson stole second and third in the same inning -- and because he was running to third on the pitch, the third baseman vacated his spot and Justin Upton hit a grounder right through the hole to score Johnson.
"Early on [this season], there wasn't a ton of signs," LaRoche said. "We were relying on the three-run homer there for a long time, and we proved that's not going to work enough. He's decided we're going to start moving guys and get a little more action, and because of that, guys have to be on their toes."
In trying to cut down on his team's massive strikeout total, Gibson has not emphasized not striking out, but rather to not miss the pitch that they can do the most damage to during an at-bat.
That's one of the reasons he gives them the freedom to swing when the count is 3-0.
"I always yell keyhole from the bench," Gibson said of when the count goes to 3-0. "You put [the ball] in a keyhole -- it's a little spot where you're looking for it -- and if it's there, you offer at it. In many instances, it's the best pitch you're going to see. It's going to be a fastball. I believe that it shows confidence in them."
Timetable in limbo, but Webb progressing
PHOENIX -- Brandon Webb threw another bullpen session Wednesday, but there is still no timetable for his return to action.
"I don't think he could honestly give you a date," interim manager Kirk Gibson said. "I know I can't."
Gibson recalled some of the injuries that he had gone through in his career and said he understood where Webb was at right now from a mental standpoint.
"He's probably in a frustrating stage right now, because mentally, he's ready," Gibson said. "He wants to pitch. It gets frustrating. I think he's frustrated with it. He's certainly frustrated with you guys anxiously asking him all the time. I don't think he really has any answers."
On Wednesday, Webb played long toss, threw some pitches off the mound and then played long toss again.
"He's making progress," Gibson said. "He's got a ways to go. It's coming slow."
When asked if he thought Webb could possibly pitch again before the end of the season, Gibson said. "It's a possibility, yeah."
Webb made just one start in 2009 and had minor shoulder surgery in August.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.