SAN DIEGO -- It's been a game of musical chairs in the No. 2 spot in the batting order so far this year for the D-backs.In the team's first six games, four players have hit second. Thursday, Jason Kubel joined Chris Young, Aaron Hill and Gerardo Parra as players who have filled that spot. "He's one of our, I think, purest hitters," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Kubel. "I decided to put him up there, wanted to split the lefties up throughout the lineup. I wanted to give him an opportunity to get some more plate appearances. We can do some things with him." What those things are, Gibson would not say, but Kubel has had his share of success in that spot. In 100 career plate appearances hitting second for the Twins, Kubel hit .344 and had an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .967. "I've done it a few times in front of [Joe] Mauer and did pretty well," Kubel said. "It worked out for the week or two weeks that we did it."
It worked out again for Kubel in Thursday night's 3-1 win over the Padres as he doubled home Willie Bloomquist in the sixth inning to give the D-backs a 2-1 lead.
"I take the same approach that I would any place else," Kubel said. "Today that's all we needed with Ian [Kennedy] out there."
D-backs look to improve clutch hitting
SAN DIEGO -- In their first five games this year, the D-backs have struggled to hit with runners in scoring position.Arizona ranks last in the National League in batting average during those situations, with six hits in 45 at-bats for a .133 average. "We've had guys in scoring position and haven't been able to get them in," manager Kirk Gibson said. "You look at at-bats sometimes with nobody on and at-bats with somebody on, and they're a little different. We've got to do a better job of controlling it." By controlling it, Gibson is referring to his hitters not getting overeager in those situations. "We have to learn how to kind of stay within yourself in those situations," Gibson said. "Especially when a guy is on third and you've got less than two outs. That's the easiest thing you could want. A lot of times they bring the infield in. You've got to turn it where you're not feeling the pressure. The pressure is on them."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.