Cards’ Goldschmidt looking for consistent swing

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              St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt takes his turn in the batting cage during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Paul Goldschmidt never found consistency with his swing last season.

Poor swings that yield ugly results early in this year’s spring training games may actually prevent that from happening again this season.

“That can allow you to make adjustments where sometimes (positive) results can cover up some things.” Goldschmidt said.

Traded to St. Louis from Arizona prior to the 2019 season, Goldschmidt struggled to find the feel of his swing throughout the season. He never did pinpoint one specific problem.

“I didn’t feel like I was consistently last year in my best hitting position, whether that’s from timing, the way you see the ball, or just putting a good swing on the ball,” Goldschmidt said.

Goldschmidt battled through tough stretches in the first half of the season – a second consecutive slow start for a player usually locked in come opening day.

Proud of what he considers a relatively simple swing, Goldschmidt surprisingly spent much of the season tinkering.

“I just was never able, in my opinion, to really sync my swing up how I really wanted to,” Goldschmidt said.

Nowhere was that more noticeable than in the season’s first half. Goldschmidt belted nine homers but only drove in 19 runs through the end of April.

“The OPS was pretty good, but the average was low,” Goldschmidt said. “I was still walking and hitting for power. I think that just kind of showed the inconsistency.”

After hitting only .259 in the opening weeks, Goldschmidt hit .293 in May, but with only two homers. The average cratered in June, when Goldschmidt hit only .181 for the month, driving in five runs.

After the All-Star break, Goldschmidt looked more like the player the Cardinals hoped they were getting with the trade.

His season totals of 34 homers and 97 RBIs were in line with career numbers, though the .260 batting average was more than 30 points below his career average.

“I look at Goldy’s year and I felt pretty good about it,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “I didn’t think that was a struggle. I think the expectations set him up for anything less than being superman would be a perceived struggle.”

Goldschmidt took a month off following the season before getting back in the cage, trying to find his swing for 2020. He professes to have positive feelings about that swing heading into Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener – then quickly offers that he felt good at this time last year, too.

The 32-year-old slugger is ready to take his cuts, but is not yet ready for the field. Arm soreness limited Goldschmidt’s throwing over the last couple of days, and Shildt will use him as the designated hitter Saturday and in his next scheduled appearance on Monday.

No one seems worried about the issue lingering more than a few days.

“Every year you just look back on how you can improve and what you can learn,” Goldschmidt said, “Sometimes that’s learning from success you’ve had. Sometimes from failures, there’s a lot of good things, too.”