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Paul Goldschmidt wants to play, defers to Arizona Diamondbacks’ protocol

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, right, celebrates his three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants with A.J. Pollock (11) during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The name, Paul Goldschmidt, once again did not appear on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup card on Friday.

That’s now five straight games the D-backs have been without their starting first baseman and leading contender for MVP in the National League.

Goldschmidt told reporters moments after the lineup was posted inside the clubhouse that his right elbow “feels good” and “it’s getting better every day”, yet the decision was made to hold him out for one more day.

“Not playing for five days, kind of the protocol they usually have with everyone is come back, you take BP and take grounders and kind of go through the whole day rather than just jumping back into the game,” he said. “I told them I feel good. Just like every day, said I can play and want to play, but I understand. The trainers know more about this and the coaching staff and front office so definitely trust their opinion on it.”

Goldschmidt played catch in shallow left field with head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw and hit in the cage after arriving at the ballpark.

The plan later, according to manager Torey Lovullo, was to have Goldschmidt go through a full pregame routine before determining whether or not he would be available to pinch-hit in the series opener against the San Diego Padres.

“He’s going to go through some testing, although today is different than it has been the past couple of days. It had been in the batting cage where he was just feeling it out and letting me know how he feels right before the game,” Lovullo said. “This one I’ll have more of a snapshot, more color to the picture; get the feedback about his availability today and how he feels when he wakes up tomorrow morning and perhaps getting him back in the lineup as soon as possible.”

Goldschmidt has not played since Sept. 2 in Colorado.

At the request of the team, Goldschmidt, who had been battling some elbow soreness in recent weeks, returned to Phoenix on Monday. An MRI showed only inflammation. Structurally, the elbow was sound.

“I got the news I was expecting,” Goldschmidt said.

Since then Goldschmidt has received a cortisone shot, which has helped reduce some of the swelling as has the near week-long rest. Goldschmidt mentioned he’s no longer waking up with any soreness.

“Our training staff has a lot of experience and Torey and the front office so they have a plan for everything,” he said. “You got to kind of take your competitive nature out of it and understand that and do what’s best for the team. I don’t want to be selfish and just say, ‘Yeah, I need to play. I have to play today.’ I mean, I want to, of course but I think it’s what’s best for the team.”

It helps, Goldschmidt added, that the team is winning. The D-backs have won each of the four games Goldschmidt has missed.

“Winning is going to solve everything,” he said, smiling. “We got such a talented group here. It’s not about me, I’ve been saying that the whole year and we’ve got guys who have stepped in (due to injuries)…this team is not built on one person, myself or any other guy in here and regardless what happens, we’ll go out there and play hard.”

Overall, the D-backs have won a franchise-best 13 straight games. They entered play Friday with a 10-game advantage in the Wild Card standings, including a seven-game cushion over the Rockies for the No. 1 spot and homefield advantage in a one-game playoff.

So, the question was asked of Lovullo, what if the standings looked different? What if the D-backs’ lead wasn’t as big? Would Goldschmidt then be playing?

“Yes. To answer your question, if it fell on me,” he said. “Based on what I know and what he’s telling me, if it was a one-game lead and we had to do things a little differently at a different pace with different intensity, he’d probably be playing.”

Goldschmidt is enjoying perhaps the best season of his career. He ranks among the league leaders in several statistical categories, including batting average (.314, 7th), home runs (33, 5th), RBI (109, T3rd), slugging (.597, 5th), on base (.424, 2nd) and OPS (1.022, 5th).

After following D-backs’ protocol, Goldschmidt most certainly expects to be back in the lineup Saturday, right?

“Torey writes the lineup,” he said, “so I just get there and try to prepare and try to be ready and let him and everyone else make those decisions.”

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