PHOENIX -- Paul Goldschmidt is a premier player. A four-time National League All-Star first baseman with 143 homers in a little more than five seasons, the D-backs star has his droughts at the plate like everyone else.And for the second consecutive April, he has come out of the gate struggling.
PHOENIX -- Paul Goldschmidt is a premier player. A four-time National League All-Star first baseman with 143 homers in a little more than five seasons, the D-backs star has his droughts at the plate like everyone else.
And for the second consecutive April, he has come out of the gate struggling. Last year, he batted .247, by far his lowest month of the year, although his six homers were his highest in a month. He finished with a slash line of .298/.399/.523 with 24 homers, 95 RBIs and an .899 OPS.
This year, Goldschmidt's hitting .257, but he began to break out of his slump this weekend against the Dodgers at Chase Field.
He hit a two-run homer off former D-backs teammate Brandon McCarthy in the first inning, accounting for his club's only runs in Sunday's 6-2 loss. It was his third of the season and first at home since April 4. He also had a pair of two-run singles over the weekend, one each in victories on Friday night and Saturday over the defending four-time National League West champions.
Not to worry. He's digging his way out of a 9-for-44 (.205) slump that began with a 5-for-33 stretch on the just-concluded 10-game road trip through San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
"Was he in a slump? I didn't even notice that," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "You're going to have a magical season if you don't have those moments offensively. I know that the season is very grinding. You make mistakes mechanically. You get tired. You get frustrated.
"In Goldy's case, he's so mentally tough, he's so confident, he's so professional that I just listen to what he says. And if he needs a thought or two, I'd be there to offer my thoughts, but I don't think he needs much from anybody because he's such an elite player."
But thus far, he has hit just three homers and amassed 12 RBIs, while the rest of the team is torching the ball.
"The biggest thing is just realizing there's going to be ups and downs throughout the year," Goldschmidt said. "So you just stick with what you know and what works. Just try to have good at-bats, hit the ball hard and the hits will start coming, the home runs will start coming."
The D-backs came into Sunday leading the Majors with 105 runs scored and were hitting fourth overall as a team at .265, though the splits are dramatic differences between home and road. At home, they were hitting .316 with 74 runs scored and 69 RBIs, all at the top of the Majors. On the road, the corresponding numbers were .211 (21st in the Majors), 31 and 29.
Similarly, Goldschmidt is hitting .351 at home, .195 on the road.
"I'd say this is the mystique of baseball," Goldschmidt said when asked about those comparisons. "But I'd also say, give us more than one road trip and a little more than one homestand before you label us as good or bad. That doesn't make the whole season, so it's hard to really say."
Lovullo, who was the bench coach under manager John Farrell in Toronto and Boston from 2011-15, has seen it all develop like this for star players before. For instance, Red Sox star David Ortiz hit .309 in 2013 then hit .263 in '14 at age 38. Experts began to wonder if it was the end of the line for Big Papi, but last year, in his retirement season at 40, Ortiz led the Majors with 48 doubles, 127 RBIs and a 1.021 OPS.
"Everybody's going to have those moments," Lovullo said. "Some of the greatest players in the game are going to have some of those moments. Not just in Goldy's situation, but for every player, the idea is to run them out there. They deserve the respect to work through those."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.