ARLINGTON, Texas – Manager Torey Lovullo vowed in spring training to get first baseman Paul Goldschmidt more days off this season. But like all of Goldschmidt’s managers to come before him, Lovullo has found that idea easier said than done.
“I know I committed to somewhere in the low-to-mid 150s (in games played),” Lovullo said, “but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. We’re in the thick of a pennant race and to take him out of this lineup at this point in time is pretty challenging.”
Goldschmidt was given a sort of half-day off on Tuesday, when he was in the lineup as the designated hitter against the Texas Rangers. Prior to that, Goldschmidt has been out of the lineup entirely for three games and served as the designated hitter one other time.
He entered Tuesday with 118 games played (117 starts) out of the Diamondbacks’ first 120 games.
In 2013, 2015 and 2016, Goldschmidt played in 160, 159 and 158 games. He was on pace for similar numbers in 2014, when he broke his hand in August and finished at 109 games, and last year, when he finished at 155 but missed five in September with an elbow injury.
“It’s a really tough situation to take him out of the lineup,” Lovullo said. “He keeps himself in such great physical shape. He’s tough mentally; he doesn’t have down days from that standpoint. It’s hard to take him out.”
Ben Zobrist was ejected from the Chicago Cubs’ game against the Brewers on Tuesday afternoon, reportedly because he told home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, “That’s why we want an electronic zone” following what he deemed to be a bad third-strike call earlier in the game.
Lovullo was asked if he feels like the game could benefit from switching to an automated strike zone.
“I don’t know,” he said. “At times when I’m frustrated with the strike zone, of course I’ll say something like that. But when I’m sitting back in my room late at night and thinking through it a little more clearly, I feel like the interactions with the umpires and the relationships you form have been a part of this game for so long and it’s a part of the game that I enjoy. I don’t know if I’d feel good about it.”
Lovullo kept center fielder A.J. Pollock out of the lineup on Tuesday, saying that he wanted Pollock to essentially receive consecutive days off when counting Wednesday’s off day.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.