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D-backs' moves give Gibson more flexibility

PHOENIX -- Trying to get D-backs manager Kirk Gibson to talk about lineup decisions during the season is tough.

Trying to get him to answer lineup questions during the offseason is virtually impossible.

Gibson will have plenty more decisions to make this year when it comes to filling out his lineup card thanks to the work put in this winter by general manager Kevin Towers.

Only time will tell whether the decisions to trade outfielders Chris Young and Justin Upton along with top prospect Trevor Bauer will prove to be good ones, but the GM has given his manager a lot of flexibility for 2013.

"It will allow me to match up to different guys," Gibson said of the roster moves. "It's going to allow me to have a much stronger bench."

Towers and Gibson have made known their preference for veterans on the bench, and they will have them this year with the additions of Eric Hinske and Eric Chavez.

"We have a lot of depth," Gibson said. "I just think overall what it does to our lineup is gives us an opportunity to go different ways."

The starting outfield figures to be Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross. That leaves Gerardo Parra as the fourth outfielder. However, unlike in previous years where you could count on Young and Upton being in the lineup unless injured, Gibson will be more apt to rest the trio and give Parra his share of playing time.

In a perfect world, Gibson envisions the four getting between 450 and 600 at-bats apiece.

"I see kind of more of a rotation out there," Gibson said. "Adam Eaton has played 22 games for us. I don't know if I can say I'm going to give the guy 600 at-bats next year if that would be healthy for him. He's still a young kid."

As for the infield, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and second baseman Aaron Hill figure to play every day, with Hinske or Chavez spelling Goldschmidt.

The left side could see some maneuvering.

While Martin Prado's primary position figures to be third base, he could also be used in the outfield. The team didn't sign Chavez to get 600 plate appearances at third, but it would like to see him get 250-300 somewhere believing that is about the right number to keep him healthy at this stage of his career.

Cliff Pennington may get the majority of the starts at short, but Willie Bloomquist will figure in the mix there. Bloomquist also could play the outfield against tough left-handers and is also most likely to see time when Hill sits.

When Gibson wants to go with speed, Eaton and Parra could play along with Bloomquist. If he wants to go with more power, then Kubel, Chavez and Prado could find their way into the lineup. And whoever doesn't start makes the bench that much better.

"If you look at our statistics [last year] late-and-close, we were poor," Gibson said. "High-leverage situations, we were poor. We tried to address that. We can go with more speed if we want, we can go with more power if we want to go that way. If we can get better in those situations, it would make sense that we could be a much better team than we were last year."

Arizona Diamondbacks