Kubel Eager to Hit at Chase Field

The Arizona Diamondbacks are counting on their new left fielder to hit better playing half of his games at Chase Field, as Jason Kubel's arrival not only steals playing time from Gerardo Parra, one of the best young players in the NL, but it prevents the D-backs from adding veteran depth to their starting rotation.

After a brief stop at Chase Field last season, new Diamondbacks left fielder Jason Kubel is looking forward to it being his new home.

Kubel hit for the cycle in a three-game series against the D-backs in May, and he considers it quite an upgrade from spacious Target Field in Minnesota, his former home. Chase Field was the fifth-best hitters' park in baseball in 2011, while Target Field ranked 21st.

"It's no secret that a lot of people didn't like Target Field too much to hit there," Kubel said. "I just feel here that I can use the whole field and still put up the power numbers I want to put up instead of having to try to pull the ball in the air to get it out. I do run into trouble trying to do that stuff. I think I can use the whole field here and not worry about hitting a ball that I thought I hit pretty well to center or left-center and just be an out."

Kubel signed a two-year deal worth $15 million with a $7.5 million mutual option for 2014 that includes a $500,000 buyout if the D-backs accept but Kubel declines. He was told he will become the regular left fielder and hit in the middle of the order.

Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra, who earned the starting left field spot last year, will get time as the backup at all three outfield positions and could be used as a defensive replacement for Kubel in left field.

Kubel, 29, averaged 27 doubles, 19 homers and 79 RBI in five seasons as a regular in Minnesota, including 2011, when he played only 99 games because of a sprained left foot that he said has healed with rest.

"I thought I would get in there and try to help out some more, and I pushed myself to go when I wasn't ready. There were a couple of setbacks here and there and I got the rest I needed, finally," he said.

Kubel, who was on the free agent market for the first time in his career, also was wooed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minnesota, according to reports.

SNAKE BYTES

--The acquisition of LF Jason Kubel (and the $15 million commitment) means the D-backs have now moved away from the high end of the starting pitching market to fill their rotation.  "Probably stay in-house with the fifth spot," g eneral manager Kevin Towers confirmed. The Kubel signing effectively ended their pursuit of free agents RHP Hiroki Kuroda and LHP Joe Saunders. The D-backs did not offer Saunders arbitration, but had hoped to have him back on a one-year deal.

--LHP Wade Miley, LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Trevor Bauer, and LHP Tyler Skaggs were mentioned as the candidates for the fifth starter's job, general manager Kevin Towers said. Miley is the only one with major league experience; he went 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight starts after being recalled from Class AAA Reno. Miley joined the rotation when RHP Jason Marquis suffered a season-ending fractured ankle in mid-August.

--LF Jason Kubel made it clear in free agent negotiations this winter that he wanted to play the outfield and not be stuck at DH, where he was often used in Minnesota in each of the last four seasons. "I'm not a big fan of the DH," Kubel said. "It is boring. You make an out, you have an at-bat you are not happy with at all, then you have to sit there for about 45 minutes going over that at-bat until you do something again."  He has hit .273 in 321 games as a DH, .272 in 385 games in left and right field.

--C Miguel Montero and the D-backs continued exploratory talks on a long-term contract, but there is no immediate urgency because Montero is not eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season. Montero hit .282 with 18 home runs and 86 RBI as a first-time All-Star last year.

DIAMOND STAT: .714 - Kubel's slugging average in 14 career Chase Field at-bats.

QUOTABLE: "It's a young, talented team, and I've been around that for quite a while with what we had going in Minnesota. I hope I fit in really well with the guys." -- New Arizona LF Jason Kubel


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