Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Baseball: Hopefuls impress MLB star at Eden Park

Arizona star Goldschmidt gives cricket a crack at the SCG. Photo / AP
Arizona star Goldschmidt gives cricket a crack at the SCG. Photo / AP

How on earth did the Boston Red Sox win the World Series this year, having finished last in 2012?

The Herald found the ideal person to ask about the incredible Major League Baseball turnaround - Arizona Diamondbacks superstar Paul Goldschmidt, who held a clinic for young Kiwi baseballers at Eden Park yesterday.

"That's the great thing about baseball," said the 26-year-old, whose brilliant year with the bat put him in MLB's MVP territory.

"You never know what is going to happen. Sure, they made a few changes to their team, but every team does that.

"They got off to a good start and kept it going. Their players just played well.

"That's baseball. My first year at the Diamondbacks was 2011 - they'd placed last the year before but we made the playoffs even though we were picked to finish last again."

The first baseman was the son of baseball-loving parents but there was no great family playing history.

"There was a time in high school, when I was 16 or 17, when I played against some guys who were going to be drafted and held my own," he said.

"I realised that if I kept getting better I had a shot at this. I grew up in an area in Texas that was very talented in baseball, there were a lot of scouts. Now I get to play baseball every day - I couldn't ask for anything more.

"It was a very good year for me, and it is a lot more fun when you play well. But there are ups and downs every year.

"Baseball is a game of failure - there were times this year when I made mistakes which cost us the game. You move on and try to do better next time."

Goldschmidt had just arrived in Auckland from Sydney, where he was promoting the Diamondbacks' historic matches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in March.

Those games at the Sydney Cricket Ground will open the 2014 MLB season.

His advice to aspiring baseballers - "have fun, and work hard".

"The players here today were very talented - they were better than I was expecting. I was very impressed," he said.

Among those watching the clinic was former New Zealand softballer of the year Chris Kohlhase, who is on the New Zealand Baseball board.

He believes junior boys up to 18 should all be playing baseball instead of softball.

"If they don't make it in baseball, they can go to softball later on," he said.

- NZ Herald

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