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Lovullo gives Goldschmidt first rest day of year

D-backs call on first baseman to pinch-hit in win over Nats
MLB.com @feinsand

WASHINGTON -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had been hunting for a day to give Paul Goldschmidt a breather. Saturday proved to be the perfect opportunity.

With right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on the mound for the Nationals and lefty Gio Gonzalez -- a pitcher against whom Goldschmidt is 9-for-14 lifetime -- slated to start Sunday against the D-backs, Lovullo opted to sit his first baseman for the middle game of the three-game set at Nationals Park.

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WASHINGTON -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had been hunting for a day to give Paul Goldschmidt a breather. Saturday proved to be the perfect opportunity.

With right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on the mound for the Nationals and lefty Gio Gonzalez -- a pitcher against whom Goldschmidt is 9-for-14 lifetime -- slated to start Sunday against the D-backs, Lovullo opted to sit his first baseman for the middle game of the three-game set at Nationals Park.

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Goldschmidt did come off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, striking out against Ryan Madson before the D-backs rallied to a 4-3 win in the 10th. He had started all 25 of Arizona's games prior to Saturday, hitting .278/.404/.533 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

"Whether we won or lost [Friday], that wasn't really part of my decision," Lovullo said. "It was about making sure he was ready for a big series coming up in L.A.; we're anticipating four lefties are going to be throwing against us. With a day game [Sunday] and a lefty that he hits very well, it equaled the most common sense to me. I felt like I needed to stick to my guns whether we won or lost and be disciplined in it because I have to do the best thing for Paul Goldschmidt."

Lovullo informed Goldschmidt of the plan before Friday night's win over the Nationals. The five-time All-Star -- who has started at least 150 games in each of the past three seasons -- tried to lobby his way into the lineup, but Lovullo made it clear he wasn't going to be talked out of it.

"That's the true Paul Goldschmidt," Lovullo said. "When I told him, 'You're down tomorrow and this is what I'm deciding to do,' he said, 'Are you sure? I'm ready, I want to do this. Just make sure it's the right thing; we can do it another time, Torey.' I said 'No, I'm 100 percent positive. This is my decision and I'm not coming off of it. Get some rest tonight, enjoy it, know you're coming to the ballpark and you won't be in the lineup and it's firm.' He fought me as best he could."

With Goldschmidt on the bench, Christian Walker got the start at first base Saturday, going 0-for-4.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Ready to make his first start of the season: @CWALK328. pic.twitter.com/pGHJV26M7e

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt