Goldschmidt 'looking for ways to be better' 

May 9th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Among the truths Paul Goldschmidt can lean on as he works to escape his first extended slump as a Cardinal is that he’s emerged from such a skid before.

In fact, the numbers right now aren’t all that different than they were at this time in 2018, when Goldschmidt was slashing .218/.346/.398 through 37 games. He had piled up 48 strikeouts and was stuck on 14 extra-base hits. What we all know now is that Goldschmidt went on to rebound and earn a top-six finish in the National League MVP race at the end of the year.

Hindsight can be kind like that. It can also serve Goldschmidt well now as he’s trying to regain some offensive traction. Perhaps his contributions in Thursday’s 17-4 thumping of the Pirates will prove to be the jumping off point he needs.

Though Goldschmidt still hasn’t homered since April 22, he ended a run of 60 consecutive plate appearances without an RBI with a second-inning single on Thursday. Later in the night, he snapped a 13-game drought without an extra-base hit when he drove in another run with a ground-rule double.

After tallying eight singles, walking twice and striking out 17 times in his previous 13 games, Goldschmidt reached base four times with three hits and a walk. 

“That’s him, right?” manager Mike Shildt said afterward. “Using the whole field. Getting his walks. Seeing the ball well. He stayed on a ball down the right-field line. Pulled the ball to left. That’s really him.”

Goldschmidt’s lack of production leading into this series had been especially magnified since the Cardinals had struggled to generate offense while dropping six of seven games. 

“It stinks to go out there and not perform, especially when the team is losing,” Goldschmidt said before the team’s breakout offensive night. “I feel like I’ve had opportunities to drive guys in or get on base for the guys behind me, and I feel like I haven’t done a good enough job of that. That’s on me. 

“You always go through times throughout the year where you’re not going to play well. Try to keep going. Try to have good at-bats. There’s not a magic switch that you flip. It’s just part of the game.”

One of the culprits behind Goldschmidt’s slow start is that he’s not making solid contact consistently enough. Entering Thursday, his barrel rate (13 percent), average exit velocity (89.4 mph) and hard-hit percentage (38.9) were all down from last year.

So, too, was his walk rate (9.8 percent). The one thing that’s up is his strikeout rate, which sat at 28.2 percent. It has climbed each of the last four seasons.

Inside the organization, though, there have been no signs of panic. Goldschmidt’s track record speaks for itself, which is why Shildt isn’t trying to jump-start the perennial All-Star by moving him elsewhere in the lineup.

“There’s going to be ups and downs,” Goldschmidt said. “You understand that, but you don’t want to get complacent and just act like, ‘Hey everything is OK.’ It’s not bad luck. I’ve just gone out there and haven’t played well. You’re looking for ways to be better. Sometimes there are adjustments to be made. But the stuff I can control, swinging at the right pitches and hitting them hard, I haven’t done a good enough job with that. Just try to keep focusing on that.”

Martinez debuts for Memphis
Rehabbing right-hander Carlos Martinez worked around two walks and an error to pitch a scoreless inning in his first relief appearance for Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. Martinez threw 23 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the outing. 

He’ll remain with Memphis, Shildt confirmed, to pitch again on Friday. The Cardinals anticipate that Martinez will be ready to join their bullpen sometime during the team’s next homestand. 

Worth noting
• While Alex Reyes (fractured left pinkie finger) builds up his arm strength in a controlled Florida setting, he’s also been workshopping with a new grip to his changeup. Actually, it’s an old grip, one that Reyes is reverting back to and with some success. Shildt said on Thursday that Reyes is “moving forward in a positive direction.”

• In a team bonding event organized by Dexter Fowler, several Cardinals and their spouses spent Wednesday evening singing karaoke at a nearby establishment. Among those who attended were Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Kolten Wong, Luke Gregerson, Marcell Ozuna and Dominic Leone. 

• Texas Christian University announced that it will induct Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter into its Hall of Fame later this year. Carpenter, who played at TCU from 2005-09, left the program as the school’s all-time leader in games played (241) and at-bats (843).