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Arizona's humble Goldschmidt becomes face of franchise

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Don't ask Paul Goldschmidt about his breakout season of a year ago. That's ancient history. Besides, anyone who tries to get the Arizona first baseman to talk about himself is wasting his breath. Goldschmidt is as humble and low-key as a big-time player can get, But at the plate, his bat makes a lot of noise.

In his second full major league season a year ago, he led the National League in RBIs with 125, tied for the lead in homers at 36 and hit .302. Oh, and he won a Gold Glove for his defence.

It was a performance that earned him a second-place finish to Andrew McCutchen in MVP voting.

The Diamondbacks have made him the face of the franchise. When they tried to lure Japanese hurler Hiroshi Tanaka, Goldschmidt was part of the entourage. When Arizona needed to take someone to Australia to promote the season-opening series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Goldschmidt made the trip.

"Goldy is a franchise's dream," Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said. "He is as big a star off the field as he is on it. ... He exemplifies what a role model is and goes above and beyond to assist the organization with the recruitment of players, building our community presence and representing it with the highest level of class and dignity."

And he's a whale of a bargain, by the standards of baseball salaries these days.

Before last season, after one full year in the majors, he signed a four-year, $32 million deal that kicks in this year and puts him under contract through 2017 with a $14.5 million club option for 2018.

Now the question is whether he is a one-year wonder or truly destined for something special. Given his temperament and dedication, the latter seems a safe bet.

Not that he'll say much about that.

"I never really thought about it," Goldschmidt said. "You want to go out and play well every year. It doesn't matter whether you had a great year or a bad year the year before, you've got to go out and do it. We all start with no hits, no RBIs, no average so it doesn't matter what happened."

Teammate Aaron Hill marvels at how Goldschmidt carries himself at age 26 with such a short time in the big leagues.

"How he's able to slow the game down already is impressive," Hill said before Monday's workout. "Sometimes it takes a guy a little longer than that. If he can continue to have the same work ethic and mind frame and is always trying to get better, he's' going to have a long, successful career."

Just don't ask him to talk about it.

As personable as they come, he has no interest in self-analysis, and that's one of the things that so impresses manager Kirk Gibson.

"He forces himself to remain humble," Gibson said, "the way he goes about his business and the way that he shows that humbleness to his teammates, through some of the things he does. He'll always be that way,"

Born in Delaware, Goldschmidt grew up near Houston and played for Texas State. He wasn't exactly a top pro prospect. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the eighth round in 2009.

But he rocketed through the minor leagues.

Three years ago, he was a non-roster invitee to the Arizona big-league spring training camp and made a big impression, hitting the first home run at the Diamondbacks' new Salt River Fields facility.

Ask him about that, and again Goldschmidt deflects the praise.

"That first spring I learned so much from other guys," he said. "I think I've said it before, if I hadn't been in big league camp that year I don't know if I would have performed as well as I did in Double-A and get the opportunity to get called up. It's a huge thing to be here. There's a lot of coaches here and you get more time to work one-on-one."

While Goldschmidt supplied plenty of power, no one else on the team had more than 14 home runs.

So general manager Kevin Towers acquired Mark Trumbo in a three-team trade. Trumbo hit 34 homers with 100 RBIs last year for the Los Angeles Angels.

Already Trumbo is impressed by what he sees of Goldschmidt. The numbers and ability are one thing, Goldschmidt's attitude really earns the new Diamondback's' praise.

"That's one thing I really admire," Trumbo said. "He's the type of guy that's going to go out there and let his game speak for itself. He doesn't need to tell you how good he is. I think the guys that do are probably not that good anyway."

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