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Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt talks pace of play, J.D. Martinez

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt answers a question during a news conference at Chase Field as the team gets ready for a National League wild card playoff baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks host the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Pitchers and catchers report in three weeks. Position players will follow shortly thereafter. In other words, baseball is right around the corner.

And to help mark the unofficial start of spring here in the Valley, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will — for one day only — put down his bat and glove in favor of a bowling ball.

Yes, a bowling ball.

“I’m OK. I don’t bowl as much as I used to, so (my game) is probably a little shaky but it’s respectable for sure,” said Goldschmidt, who along with his wife, Amy, will host the Second Annual Goldy’s Bowling Bash on Feb. 22 at Lucky Strike in downtown Phoenix.

The event raises money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“Almost everyone bowls but golf can be really tough,” Goldschmidt said, explaining why he chose bowling over the more common charity event activity. “Most people grew up, they did bowl with their family and it’s not something that is going to take you four or five hours to go play.

“You can come out for an hour and kind of keep that portion of it shorter so that’s kind of what I enjoy. You can bowl once a year — to go golf once a year is extremely tough so that’s where I saw bowling and what kind of attracted us to do this event.”

For more information on Goldy’s Bowling Bash visit the event’s website here.

On Wednesday, Goldschmidt sat down with 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station to discuss his charity plus other baseball-related topics, including the hot-button issue of pace of play. Goldschmidt is the D-backs’ union representative and one of the more active participants within the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Are you worried Commissioner Rob Manfred could unilaterally implement new rules, i.e. a 20-second pitch count, without the union’s consent to help speed up the game?

“I wouldn’t say worried. We want to speed up the game, too. I’ve talked with a lot of guys and everyone wants to do their part and you’re just trying to keep the quality of the game and not do anything that’s going to hurt the quality out there. Whatever ways we can do that (and) keep the integrity of the game, players are open to but you also want to be smart about it and not doing anything too drastic that could change the game too much.”

What are some of the ideas the union has with regards to pace of play?

“There’s always stuff you can do. You’re trying to work quicker; you’re trying to be ready to go in-between innings, in-between at-bats. There’s a lot of things that are out of our control. I’ve mentioned the defensive shifts. Guys are shifting in-between every pitch depending if it’s a strike or ball, that’s adding time. In-between hitters.

“We’re seeing outfield shifts now. So that stuff is out of our control. The instant replays. It’s not just one solution. You’re trying to look for little ways and look for ways to speed up the game that aren’t going to affect the quality of it.”

How was the offseason?

“Nothing too crazy. We had another baby right when the season ended. A baby girl. So mostly just hanging out with family. I’m not into too much. Since we’ve had kids, I just want to stay home and hang with them.”

Where is J.D. Martinez going to play this season?

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’d love to have him, but if it doesn’t work out, then that’s great, too. He’s a great player. Whatever team gets him is going to be really happy. I’m his biggest fan, so if there’s teams that are worried about — I feel like he came over, he fit in our clubhouse great, the culture.

“He’s a winner and he worked hard. He’s everything a team would want. Hopefully he’s back with us, but if it doesn’t work out, then whatever team signs him is getting a great player and a great teammate.”

OK, last baseball question, and it’s your favorite topic: Your contract. You’re due to become an unrestricted free agent in two seasons, provided the D-backs exercise their team option in 2019.

“I’ve been pretty consistent in not speaking about the contract. I consider any of that stuff private. But, my focus is just on getting ready for spring training and this year. I’m excited about the team we have and just really preparing for that.”

Back to Goldy’s Bowling Bash, who is on the celebrity guest list?

“I expect most of (my) teammates to be there. I think Torey (Lovullo) will be there. I’ve reached out to some of my friends on some other teams. I’ll kind of keep that in my pocket. Last year Drew Stanton came from the Cardinals. I think he’s going to come again. I asked Shane Doan to come out here. We had guys from the Suns (last year). We’re still a month away. Don’t want to throw anyone under the bus if they don’t show up but we’ve had great support.”

Last year’s event raised $186,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Do you have a goal in mind for this year’s event on Feb. 22?

“I was blown away by that number and that support. We had no idea what we were going to get. Whatever we do will be great and I know it will be put to good use there at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Part of it is also just raising the awareness for the need over there and educating people on—whether it’s financially or with their time they can go over there and really make a difference.

“Or, maybe their own cause, maybe inspiring some people to help out some other people, some other segment or just help out their neighbors and stuff like that. That’s what we want to do. We’re just doing our part and hopefully having fun while we’re doing it.”

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