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Hochman: Goldschmidt begins Cards camp, sparks wonderment and wondering about contract | Benjamin Hochman




JUPITER, Fla. • He was born the year they went to the World Series for the last time. Come to think of it, many of Paul Goldschmidt's life benchmarks coincide with the great years in Cardinals history – the high school graduation in 2006, the big-league debut in 201

1, the first All-Star Game in 2013 – and he was born in the fall of 1987 , when Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee won the pennant

And there was Goldschmidt on Monday, walking with Ozzie and Willie, just the three of them, from the practice diamonds towards the spring training clubhouse, following Goldschmidt's first full-squad workout with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool," said Goldschmidt, whose goal is to make 2019 another one of those great years for himself and the Cardinals, this time for the same reason. "There are a lot of (retired stars) in St. Louis and with this organization, so it'll be fun to see the guys around and get to know them. But it's definitely a business-like attitude. And if there's something these guys see, that I can improve or get better, I'm all austere. And that'll be the fun thing. There are a lot of new eyes. "

The eyes are watching him – those of teammates, legends, coaches, fans, media, team executives – and he's watching back, as Goldschmidt takes on everything that makes Cardinals spring training. Goldschmidt said he would not talk publicly about a contract extension, one that has not been formally offered yet, but each Goldschmidt benchmark in his first Florida spring, such as his first full-squad workout, leads to wonders and wonderment. [19659003] "Hey, Paul," a young boy shouted in a high-pitched voice. "Let's see some bombs!"

Alas, Goldschmidt's first at-bat during the live batting practice was not even categorically an at-bat. The big right has stepped in against Brett Cecil, who promptly pitched three balls. Goldschmidt then watched a strike whiz by, before drawing a walk on the next pitch (incidentally, it was later discovered that Cecil was ill). And in Goldy's second at-bat, he grounded a ball back into the pitcher and the slugger-slayer Mike Mayers.

Numerous fans watched Goldschmidt's every move, from practicing lead-offs to fielding first base to-wait, he's coming this way !? – signing autographs. The 6-foot-3 perennial All-Star came to the field's fence and gently alerted a young girl that the gate door would slowly swing at her, and not in the field. And then, Goldschmidt reached out his big paws and signed his famous name, over and over, as the eyes widened.

"There are high expectations from the fans," Goldschmidt said in his first scheduled interview session of spring training. "Rightfully so. And hopefully we'll go out there and play well and give them a good show and find a way to win a lot of games. "

Goldschmidt is very polite, however purposely guarded during interviews, revealing little, often reverting to the Ol ', "just trying to help the team win." But he has been outgoing with some of his teammates, coaches and manager – and has been for months now.

"Me and (coaches) Oliver Marmol and Jeff Albert have He has had independent conversations with him through text or voice, and he has actually initiated a lot of those, "Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "And they're not short conversations." And they're not forced. He's a baseball guy, that's my point. The detail He's reaching out to Stubby (Clapp) about baserunning things and getting leads and turns and very specific things – a trick. This is a generational fan base. There are people who understand the game clearly, are respectful and expect to see a good brand of baseball. Fundamentally sound. That's what they'll see in Goldy. So it's a great marriage. "

Sometimes, after Shildt communicated with his new first baseman, the manager would follow up with some of the other coaches. There was this shared giddiness about Goldschmidt's inquires.

"They're like – wow!" Shildt said. "We all appreciate the passion, right? We appreciate people who love what they do. And we love it when somebody's passion and ability to sync up. A lot of respect for it, and we're enjoying being a part of it. "

Shildt said Goldschmidt was out of" central casting in a sense, "this great, humble slugger.

" A lot of times , the hyperbole does not meet what's real – in this case, it's exceeded it, "the skipper said on Monday, before the day's workout. "He's come in and been unbelievably engaging, thoughtful, proactive. He's really smart and he's really dedicated to what we're doing and how we're doing it. He's exceeded expectations before we even gotten on the field. "

And he got in the field, all the eyes at the camp saw the same thing – this presence.

Now, last year at this time, much was made about the arrival of the slugger Marcell Ozuna. He was the missing presence. Ozuna was underachieved in an uneven season in 2018. But Ozuna was coming off one great year; Goldschmidt is coming off one great career, so to speak. Oh, and Ozuna is back with St. Louis The cards have made it publicly clear they want to sign Goldschmidt. No. 46 will not talk about it, but one official day in, he seems to be happily taking in this new world that is St.

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