CINCINNATI – Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said last month that his decline in stolen bases has to do with opposing teams paying more attention to him. Manager Torey Lovullo acknowledged that likely is a factor, but he offered an even more significant reason on Friday afternoon.
“I’ve probably taken that out of his hands a little bit,” Lovullo said. “I’m trying to preserve him.”
Lovullo said he’s given Goldschmidt the red light to run more often than not this season in hopes of reducing the physical strain that comes with stealing bases.
“We’ve still been allowing it from time to time, but just not as frequently,” Lovullo said.
Goldschmidt has eclipsed the 15-steal mark in five of the past six seasons, the lone exception coming in 2014, the year his season was cut short in August by a fractured hand. He has just four steals in seven tries this year.
Lovullo noted that he talked earlier this season about cutting back the number of games Goldschmidt plays in hopes of keeping him fresh. While that hasn’t happened – Goldschmidt has started 113 of the team’s first 117 games – Lovullo still feels good about lessening his slugger’s workload on the bases.
“Yeah, I think you’re going to slide and get banged around a little bit,” Lovullo said. “I know that he’s come back several times and said that he could steal a base off that guy. I always tell him that I’ll think about it, which I do. I’ve allowed him to run in spurts. But I’ve been very conscious about preserving him.”
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Catcher Alex Avila was behind the plate on Friday, a rare instance of him starting back-to-back games.
The last time that happened was when he started the last game before the All-Star break and the first game out of it. Prior to that, Avila hadn’t started back-to-back games since mid-May.
Since returning in early July from a 2 1/2-week stint on the DL, Avila has hit .343/.500/.629 in 48 plate appearances. Avila started the season hitting just .109 in his first 116 plate appearances and is still hitting just .179, but Lovullo didn’t dispute the idea that it’s been easier to get Avila in the lineup when he’s swinging the bat this well.
“I know there were times I was trying to give him a break mentally, and so I looked in another direction for a short period of time,” Lovullo said. “But I felt like he was going to get the worm to turn. He’s in a good spot offensively, so of course I want to enhance every opportunity to go out there and be successful.”
Infielder Deven Marrero, who was reinstated from the disabled list and designated for assignment on Monday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Reno.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.