Tony La Russa denies that Kirk Gibson’s job is safe


USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Tuesday morning that the Diamondbacks “currently plan to bring back” manager Kirk Gibson next season.

But the club’s new chief baseball officer — Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa — is now denying that anything has been decided on the Gibson front.

“I just think that at this point, we’re at August 18,” La Russa relayed through a spokesman to Steve Gilbert of “I’ve been around three months, I’ve observed a lot, talked to and met with a lot of people in the organization. I have a much better idea. I just think the official comment is, we’re at August 18, the season is a month and 10 days from being over. So it won’t be long until you have to trot out your plan.”

There was speculation when La Russa was hired in mid-May that he would want to clear house, and that may still be the case. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers is also thought to be on the hot seat.

Arizona entered play Tuesday with a 43-72 record — 16 1/2 games back in the National League West.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.