Kirk Gibson answers questions at a news conference at the MLB winter meetings… (John Raoux / Associated…)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — There is bad blood between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, so Kirk Gibson, a World Series hero with the Dodgers who is now manager of the Diamondbacks, faced an obvious question Monday at baseball's winter meetings:
What are the chances of a brawl when the teams meet for a season-opening series in Australia?
Gibson didn't want to talk about it.
"Our focus is on trying to win a game," he said.
The teams share a violent history that reached its apex in June, when they were part of a particularly savage bench-clearing incident at Dodger Stadium.
Their mutual disdain has grown since. When the Dodgers clinched the National League West title in Arizona, they celebrated in the pool behind the outfield wall at Chase Field, upsetting Diamondbacks officials.
Gibson threw more gasoline on the fire last month. In an interview with the Arizona Republic, he talked about how proud he was that Diamondbacks stars Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin visited Australia this off-season to promote the season-opening series. The Dodgers sent catcher A.J. Ellis, of which Gibson said, "Who's the other team got down there? Are they too [expletive] good? Honestly?"
Gibson said Monday that he didn't mean to disparage Ellis.
"I have nothing against A.J.," Gibson said. "He's a nice player.
"Did you look at the whole context of those comments? I said I was not interested in going to the Detroit Tigers and I told them why. I was talking about when I came here how the players did not understand how the fans and Major League Baseball was more important than themselves individually.
"I was proud that our players, Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin, two guys who we promoted heavily this year and had breakout years, went over there. Maybe it didn't come off that way, but I wasn't criticizing A.J. Ellis. He's a nice player. He's an emerging player. I respect him, the way he plays the game and what he's done for that team."
Gibson was told it sounded as if he thought the Dodgers should have sent higher-profile players to Australia.
"Did you hear what I just said?" Gibson snapped.
Asked whether he hated the Dodgers more than other teams, Gibson replied, "No. Maybe you want me to say, 'Yeah.' "
Gibson laughed when told he was right.
"It sounds like you have a story written and you're trying to find some good words," he said.
Who's on third?
If the Dodgers fail to re-sign Juan Uribe, they could turn to the trade market to find a replacement.
"It's a shallow free-agent pool," General Manager Ned Colletti said.
Though Colletti would be open to trading a prospect, he has no intention of parting ways with more than one of them. Under their new owners, one of the Dodgers' goals has been to rebuild the farm system.
Asked whether the Dodgers had talked about moving Hanley Ramirez from shortstop to third base, Colletti replied, "Not yet."
The Dodgers don't view Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero as an option at third base.
Guerrero, who is a candidate to be the team's second baseman next season, sat out a significant part of the Dominican winter league because of a strained hamstring, preventing the Dodgers from evaluating him.