Right up until D-backs manager Torey Lovullo delivered the news, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt did not think he would be heading to his sixth straight All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.Certainly not on May 22, when he was hitting just .198 and had those in baseball wondering what in the world
Right up until D-backs manager Torey Lovullo delivered the news, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt did not think he would be heading to his sixth straight All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
Certainly not on May 22, when he was hitting just .198 and had those in baseball wondering what in the world was going on with him. Goldschmidt is not only an All-Star again, he's hitting third in the lineup as the National League's designated hitter. Pitchers Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin are the D-backs' other representatives.
"Growing up, I never imagined I would make it to the league, much less an All-Star Game, so this is something I don't take for granted," Goldschmidt said. "I'm really happy to be here."
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Goldschmidt overcame his struggles at the plate by working with D-backs hitting coach Dave Magadan, assistant hitting coach Tim Laker and hitting strategist Robert Van Scoyoc. The work paid off.
"It wasn't like I was hitting balls hard and getting out, so you couldn't say it was just bad luck," Goldschmidt said. "I was legitimately not playing well, not having good at-bats, not swinging at the right pitches, and when I did get a pitch to hit, I wasn't hitting it hard enough."
The 30-year-old spent time individually with each of the coaches working in the batting cage. He spent time with each of them individually looking at video. Then, he worked in the cage with them as a group and looked at video with all three of them.
"I was doing everything I could," Goldschmidt said. "That's when I really had to make sure I was focusing on what I could control -- what I was doing in the cage, my batting practice, my mindset, the process, the preparation, and then what the results were, well, I knew I couldn't try any harder."
That he was struggling was frustrating for Goldschmidt, but what really got under his skin was that his massive slump came at a time when his team was desperate for offense while losing 15 of 17 games.
Finally, Goldschmidt walked into Lovullo's office and asked him to please not make any more excuses for him when he talked with the media.
"Just tell them I suck," Goldschmidt told Lovullo.
After Lovullo relayed the message, Goldschmidt stood in front of his locker and repeated the phrase for reporters.
"It bothered me that the coaches were having to put in more work to help me," Goldschmidt remembered. "You don't want to make your teammates' and your coaches' jobs harder. You want to make them easier. And I was making things more difficult for everybody, and that was what was the hardest thing for me."
Then, around May 28, things began to change. Goldschmidt picked up a couple of hits here, one hit there.
"It felt better, but still just a little off," Goldschmidt said.
On June 5, it all finally came together as he got three hits against the Giants, and over a five-game stretch Goldschmidt calls the best of his career, he slashed .682/.720/1.591, with four homers.
After having the worst month of his career in May with a .144 average, he hit .364 with 10 homers in June and was named NL Player of the Month.
Everyone wants to know what change Goldschmidt made that led to such a turnaround, but there are no easy answers to that question.
"It's hard to explain," Goldschmidt said. "I think the biggest thing was I was able to get in a better hitting position, which allows everything to work together off that. Whereas if you're not in a good hitting position, it can lead to your head moving, your front shoulder coming out, your timing being off, whatever. It all reverts back to your base -- being in a good position to hit. It's not like we didn't know that, or do things to try and get back to that. I guarantee we tried everything, and finally something just really clicked."
And for that, Goldschmidt is grateful to Magadan, Laker and Van Scoyoc.
"Man, I don't even want to know the amount of hours they spent watching video when I wasn't around trying to find something that would help me," Goldschmidt said. "Me making the All-Star Game this year would not have happened without all three of those guys."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.