Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/19/12
PHOENIX -- Kirk Gibsons offseason letter to his players came with a warning. I told them if they werent in shape, theyd have a tough spring," Gibson said when camp opened Sunday. Dont get Gibson and the Diamondbacks wrong -- they are proud of their success last year, and they believe the reservoir of confidence gained will help moving forward. But make no mistake: Reaching the first round of the playoffs was only a base, not an end-all. "One of our goals is to be physically and mentally tougher. We came a long way last year, but we need to do better," Gibson said. "What were after this year is to win enough games to get to the playoffs and become world champions. General manager Kevin Towers and Gibson are on the same page there. "Were not looking just to win divisions and get knocked out in the first round," Towers said. The D-backs 29-game turnaround led to a 94-68 record in 2011 and a division title going away, as they finished eight games ahead of defending World Series champion San Francisco before losing to Milwaukee in extra innings in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS. Gibson already has seen many of the players at the Salt River Fields training facility and said he had a sense that the players are anxious to take the next step. "Their actions certainly make it feel like they have unfinished business," Gibson said. Gibsons letter was meant to reinforce exactly that point. We talked about certain cultural changes, preparation and workout regimen. They are on task with that. Some of the new guys who have been out here have seen that. Were certainly starting ahead of where we were last year, Gibson said. The D-backs acquired starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow in a trade with Oakland before signing reliever Takashi Saito and left fielder Jason Kubel as free agents. Their last offseason move was to re-sign free-agent starter Joe Saunders. Cahill, Saunders, Breslow and Saito will join the catchers in their first workout Monday, while Kubel will join the rest of the position players when they report Friday. The first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday. With four starters who have logged at least 200 innings in a season, Gibson believes his rotation is solid. "On paper, it seems like wed be better. We feel good about. But then you get into ballgames. How do we all come together?" Gibson said. There are relatively few signs of the 2011 success in the Salt River Fields clubhouse, an acknowledgement that it is time to turn the page. "We certainly want to try to recapture that. We had some magic that kind of followed us. Its something you are concerned about, too. Its something Ive been through as a player," Gibson said. "Success can be very dangerous. We have to try to continue to do the same things that we did last year, plus more. What we did last year was good, but it was not good enough. We are going to work very hard." That means time spent learning to control the running game, both by the pitchers and the catchers. He again will stress varying moves to first base to keep the opponents running game guessing, even if it is uncomfortable for his pitchers at first, as it was last season. Gibson also will put some focus on pitchers' work with the bat. He wants his pitchers to be better equipped to pull back the bat in bunt situations and hit away, something that was a work in progress last year "I want to pull it (infield) in and jam it past them," Gibson said of the fake-bunt slash. NOTES: Stephen Drew is scheduled to take grounders and do baseball activities Monday, when injured players also can report to camp. Drew took the last week off from his almost-daily rehab on his broken right ankle, and the D-backs are anxious to see how he responds after his July 20 fractured ankle. "He looks good. Hes probably in better shape than he was last year," Gibson said. "But honestly, nobody knows. You dont know. You sit and you plan, but a lot has to happen. As an organization, we feel like we have a lot more depth this year. We dont want to use it, though, Ill tell you that." Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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