DETROIT – Kirk Gibson and Justin Upton are being reunited — sort of.
Gibson, who managed Upton in Arizona, is now doing some broadcasting for Fox Sports Detroit. The Tigers recently agreed to a $132.75 million, six-year deal with Upton, to bring one of the offseason’s top free agents to Detroit.
“He makes us a much better team,” Gibson said. “I’m excited to cover him.”
Gibson was on hand Saturday at TigerFest, Detroit’s annual offseason event for fans at Comerica Park. He managed the Diamondbacks from 2010-14. After being fired by Arizona, Gibson resurfaced as a broadcaster for the Tigers, the team he led to its most recent World Series title in 1984.
Early last season, Gibson announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He was upbeat Saturday about his health, saying he’s been staying active.
“I’ve learned how to maintain a lot more medication, and a lot of physical therapy,” Gibson said. “People box, people do yoga or whatever. I’m just really active. I climb trees. . . . So far, so good.”
By the time Gibson began managing in Arizona, Upton had already established himself as one of the game’s top young players. The No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, Upton made his major league debut two years later and hit .300 with 26 home runs in 2009. In 2011, he hit .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs, and the Diamondbacks won the NL West. Gibson was named manager of the year.
The Diamondbacks haven’t been back to the postseason since 2011, and Upton hasn’t been able to settle down with one team. The Braves dealt him to San Diego before last season, and he joined the Tigers via free agency.
“He’s extremely talented. He always has been. He’s learned to harness his abilities much more. He understands how to handle the peaks and valleys,” Gibson said. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him.”