No matter what happens, Paul Goldschmidt never loses his positive attitude. The 2014 season was a tough one for the Arizona Diamondbacks two-time Major League Baseball All-Star, who was sidelined in August and September with a hand injury. The team completed the season with the worst record in the MLB, and manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were fired this past Friday, leaving the team with a lot of re-building to do in the off-season.
Despite all the disappointments, Goldschmidt, who signed a five-year contract with the D-Backs last year, remains optimistic about his team. The 27-year-old Scottsdale resident, a Delaware native who grew up in the Houston area, talked about how he’ll be spending the off-season, why he’s passionate about giving back through charity, and what he likes to do for fun. Keep reading to watch Goldschmidt name his five favorite reasons for living in the Valley.
What brought you to Arizona?
Playing for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks drafted me in 2009 out of college (at Texas State). I was in the minor leagues, so I lived in Montana, California and Alabama.
Then, I got called up here to Phoenix and loved my two months in the season, and decided to stay out here with my wife and rent a place. I heard so many things about it and had so much fun in the off-season, we decided to stay here and make it home.
How is your hand doing?
It’s good. It’s pretty much fully healed. If we were having more games, there’d probably be a few a more steps of rehab, but right now, there’s no pain. I’m taking some swings, and that feels good.
Having an injury, what would you say your role is on the team when you’re not playing?
Everyone’s a little bit different. Number one, you’re trying to get back and get healthy and are focused on doing your rehab and making sure you get back as soon as possible, but you’re also being smart and making sure you’re fully healed.
Secondly, you’re focused on being really supportive of the team and teammates. You’re not out there on the field with them, but you’re in the dugout, so you’re just being a positive guy, telling them “good job,” or giving them a high-five. Maybe you have some knowledge, maybe you’ve faced a pitcher before or know something about a certain field.
We’ve had a lot of guys called up this year, so you can help them with your experience and share that. That’s something I’ve tried to do. I talked to guys when I was playing, and they were on the DL (disabled list), so it’s always nice to have a sounding board to talk through different things with.
What’s your reaction to the firing of manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell?
It’s tough. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a manager let go when I was part of a team. Gibby’s been my only manager in the big leagues. I’ve been with him three-and-a-half, four years now, so it’s tough. You never want to see that happen. As a player, you definitely feel a big part of the responsibility, because we’re the ones out there playing. You can’t help but think, if we would have won more games or played better, he’d still be here.
That’s disappointing, but some of that stuff is out of your control, whatever decisions the front office makes. You never want to see anyone leave, but you can’t sit there and dwell on it. You have to look towards the future and try to take care of your job.
What’s your impression of the timing, with the news coming three games before the season ended?
Honestly, with this being my first time, I don’t know how that works. I don’t know if that’s normal or not normal. I guarantee there was a reason they decided to do it when they did. It’s not for me to decide. I know there are reasons they did it. I don’t know what they are. I didn’t ask. As a player, you just play and try not to worry about all the stuff that goes on around you that you can’t control.
What are your hopes for the team during the off-season?
In the front office, if there are any roster moves or things like that, as a player, it’s out of your control. You try to focus and take some time off right when the season’s over and then go into your off-season routine and improve on things that need improving on from this year and get back in shape for next year.
For me, that’s my main goal, and I know the other 25-plus players are going to be doing that, as well, and will show up ready for spring training and hopefully have a good spring training and get off to a good start next year.
What would you say is the most positive thing about being on the team right now?
The wins and losses didn’t go how we would have liked, for sure, but the one thing this team showed the organization, from top to bottom — players, coaches, front office — is nobody ever gave up this year. Guys kept playing hard, and there was a lot of positivity. That can sometimes be hard to do when you’re losing as many games as we lost this year, but definitely that would be the thing that stuck out. Not one single guy gave up or didn’t give it his all. That’s all you can really ask for.
Guys will learn from mistakes they made, including myself. There were plenty mistakes I made when I was healthy, and you reflect on those and try to get better going forward. The one thing you don’t want to see is guys getting down and not finish playing the game hard. I didn’t see that at all this year, which was very, very impressive.
What’s your trick to staying positive?
It’s a choice you make. There are so many things out of your control. The things you can control are your attitude and how you think about them. If there’s something good or bad that happens, you can make a positive out of it and make it a learning experience. Realize the times you start to snowball and think negative thoughts, and get yourself right back to, “Hey, that’s not how I want to think. I want to worry about the things I can control and be positive every day.”
What are your goals during the off-season?
It’s pretty much the same every year — take some time off, and then get back to working out to prepare for next year. It’s getting yourself in shape to prepare for playing such a long season. You’re going to have six weeks of spring training, plus six months of a season, plus hopefully some playoffs. You’re looking at a minimum seven-and-a-half month, to hopefully a nine-month, season, so definitely physically you just try to get in shape for that. That includes running and trying to get faster, working on agility and flexibility, getting in the weight room and getting stronger, and being smart about it.
Baseball-wise, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s fielding, hitting or throwing or whatever. You focus on your strengths and make sure those are still going to be your strengths, but work on some of the weaknesses, as well.
The D-Backs made the 2011 playoffs but have been declining in record since then. What do the D-Backs need to do to turn things around next season?
As players, we just have to come out and play hard and play better. There were some mistakes that were made out there, and we need to just try to learn from those.
As far as any big changes, there’s going to be some turnover in the roster and coaching staff. As a player, you can’t really worry or think about that, because that’s more the front office’s job. You have to let them put together the team and coaching staff, and try to follow in their footsteps and play hard and play well.
What will you be doing for fun in the off-season?
Probably work on my golf game and try to improve. It’s not that good. The weather out here is so amazing in the fall and winter, so I definitely enjoy being outside. I’ll see family, relax, take some time off. I have some friends getting married, so travel a little bit and do all the things I may not have had time to do.
Does your diet change at all in the off-season?
I love to eat, so it’s definitely something I’m always worried about. Hamburgers are my favorite food, and I enjoy pretty much any American food. There are a lot of good places to eat out here. For the most part, I just try to cook as much as I can, try not to fry foods, and try to stay as healthy as possible.
What’s your favorite Valley restaurant?
The Mission. That’s my favorite place to go. I found it a few years ago, and it’s definitely my go-to place.
You got your business management degree from University of Phoenix last year. Have you thought about what you’d like to do when you retire? Would you consider coaching?
I don’t have a specific answer of what I’d like to do. I think coaching would be fun, but I think there’s a huge time commitment I’ve seen our coaching staff put in. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to do it, but even more than a player, they’re the first ones here at the ballpark and the last ones to leave. It’s not just showing up at game time and coaching three hours.
I don’t know, maybe something outside of baseball. I honestly have no idea. I’ve tried to talk to ex-players I know about things that interest them and what opportunities may be available. I try to stay up on the non-baseball business world, as well, reading the paper and checking out stuff online, because you never know what opportunities are out there.
You’re really passionate about giving back and have worked extensively with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. What’s your current work with them like?
We’ve been able to raise a bunch of money through Goldy’s Fund 4 Kids, a partnership my wife and I started with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation this year. We’re selling Bleacher Creatures (plush Goldschmidt dolls) at the stadium and online. Hopefully that will continue during the off-season, and we’re very thankful for all the people who donated. That money will go to different projects at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital we’re involved with.
All the wives on the team threw a birthday party for all the kids who were there and decorated and had cake and games, and (mascot) Baxter came over there. That was just one of the events. In the off-season, I’ll go over there and volunteer with the kids. I went to a Halloween party they had there, and that’s pretty fun. You get dressed up in a costume, and the kids all go trick-or-treating. We’ll continue what we’ve been doing, and if there are any other opportunities to help out, we’re open to it, as well.
Why is giving back so important to you?
It was taught to me from a young age. It doesn’t have to be at the Children’s Hospital, just volunteering and giving back as a professional baseball player is important. We’re very fortunate to be put on this stage where people are watching us on TV and come to the games. You have a platform to give back to people in a way. Kids are looking up to you because they’re watching you on TV, and that’s a responsibility I take very seriously. It’s an easy way for us to go help families who are in the toughest time of their lives. It’s just a good thing to be a part of.
People volunteered for different organizations when I was growing up, and I had mentors growing up. Whether it was a baseball coach or a teacher or someone staying for an after-school program, they helped shape my life. Hopefully, I can help do that for kids, as well.
Do you watch football, basketball or hockey in the off-season?
I’m a fan of all the Arizona teams now. The Cardinals got off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to the rest of their season. The Suns and Coyotes were so close to making the playoffs last year, I’ll definitely be watching them and following them, and maybe check out a few games, as well.
I grew up following all the teams in Houston, but now that I live out here, these are the hometown teams and definitely the number one teams I’m following.
Why should people support the Diamondbacks next season?
They have a choice to do whatever they want, and hopefully we’ll go out there and play well. I guarantee we’re going to go out there and play hard every night. We don’t know exactly what players will be here, but from the top down, playing hard has been preached since I was drafted as a Diamondback in 2009. I know that won’t change. Guys will give it their all, and hopefully we’ll go out there and get a lot of wins and make a run at the playoffs.
Hopefully, we’ll provide some entertainment. I know that’s why they’re coming out to see us, to win, and that’s our goal, as well. We’ll try and go out there and do it, and hopefully bring another World Series win back to Arizona.
Learn about other Arizona Diamondbacks pros:
Learn more about Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster and former manager Bob Brenly here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Arizona Diamondbacks CEO and president Derrick Hall here on Phoenix People.