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Kubel looking to put together consistent season

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(Eds: Corrects amount of Kubel's contract to $15.5 million. )

By JOSE M. ROMERO

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - At some point over the next month, Jason Kubel will look over from his spot in left field and see two teammates who weren't in the outfield with him when the 2012 season began.

Kubel's Arizona Diamondbacks have gone from Chris Young in center field and Justin Upton in right to Adam Eaton and Cody Ross in those spots. But Kubel himself seemed fairly close to moving elsewhere this past offseason and in fact was mentioned in trade talk.

"I didn't know," Kubel said. "I was just ready for whatever."

That speculation ended when the Diamondbacks traded Young and Upton, and Kubel is again expected to start in left for Arizona in 2013.

"Not to say people didn't have interest in him," Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said, "but we like him a lot. We brought him here for a reason. He supplies a lot of power, tough out, sees a lot of pitches, works the count. We're glad that he's still here."

The Diamondbacks seemed set in left field for the 2012 season with Gerardo Parra, who brought excellent defense, speed and the ability to hit for average. But Kubel and his power hitting were deemed high priority, and the club signed him to a two-year, $15.5 million contract before that season began.

Kubel made his new bosses look good with his numbers through July. His batting average hovered around .300 until about the final week of the month. He hit 11 home runs in July, and ended up with 30 homers and 90 RBIs for the season.

Then came a slump that saw him hit .159 in August and .186 over fewer games in September and October.

"I don't know what it is," Kubel said of the slump. "If I would have known, I could have fixed it. Just looking forward to getting started again and keep that up all year.

"I've hit homers before. I haven't hit 30, but got close. I know I hit some but I was hoping to hit a little better last year," Kubel added.

It might have been the increased playing time in the field that was required of him in the National League after he came over from the AL's Minnesota Twins, a shared opinion in the organization. Or decreased playing time as the Diamondbacks looked at other players over the last month of the season. Or the opportunity for opposing pitchers to have developed a scouting report on his tendencies by the latter part of the season.

"Probably playing every day in the outfield. He wasn't used to that in Minnesota," Towers said. "Half the year, he probably DH'ed and his legs, just kind of lost his lower half. Just the daily grind of going out there and playing in our outfield, which is pretty quick and it's an offensive park so you're pretty active every day."

Towers said Kubel hired a personal trainer in the offseason and came to spring training in "probably the best shape he's been in in a long time."

Whatever the case, Kubel will be more familiar with everything come April.

"In our division I've seen everybody (pitchers) so far, so I know what to expect," Kubel said. "Hopefully, I can just keep it going."

Notes: The Diamondbacks were forced to move their workout to the Oakland Athletics' minor-league complex in Phoenix on Thursday because of ice pellets from a storm that pelted their own spring training complex Wednesday . Representatives from Oscar Road Trip, a three-week tour of the country leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, brought an actual Oscar to the Diamondbacks facility Thursday. Manager Kirk Gibson spent about half his news conference with the Oscar placed on the podium next to him.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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