PITTSBURGH -- The D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt hitting 16 home runs this season does not qualify as a surprise.
That he leads all National League first baseman in stolen bases with 10 might, unless you're a member of the Arizona coaching staff.
"Goldy is one of those guys who has deceptive speed," said D-backs first-base coach Eric Young, who is primarily responsible for the team's running game. "Goldy is probably one of our better students and has better instincts than a lot of our fast guys. Goldy understands a little bit more of what's going on."
That a lot more than speed goes into stealing bases is probably not talked about enough.
Goldschmidt spends time studying pitcher's moves, learning just how far off the base he can get when taking his lead and also seems to have a good feel for when a pitcher may throw an offspeed pitch. He has been thrown out twice this season, and during his two months in the big leagues last year he was 4-for-4.
Young said that Goldschmidt, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 244 pounds, could steal 25-30 bases a year if he wanted to, but that's not likely to happen given the role he fills as the team's primary cleanup hitter.
"You don't want Goldy to be that speedster, because we need his power," Young said. "This is a guy that bats in the middle of our lineup. You have to be careful with a big guy like that if they're running a lot, because there's the possibility it could take its toll on other aspects of his game, and we don't want that to happen."
Gibson fine with Young's reaction to call
PITTSBURGH -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson would prefer to have his players not get tossed out of games, but he made it clear Thursday that he had no problem with outfielder Chris Young getting thrown out the night before.
"That's fine, I've got no problem with that," Gibson said. "The kid cares. It happens. He's not a complainer, he doesn't give into stuff, he wears it, and I think he's really good about being accountable about things that happen to him and his teammates. It was a nasty at-bat, for sure."
After home-plate umpire Larry Vanover called strike three on a borderline pitch to end the seventh inning, Young slammed his bat to the ground. Gibson knew right at that moment that Young would be ejected.
What surprised Gibson was that first-base umpire Alfonso Marquez tossed Justin Upton out of the game. Upton had been at second base, and after the call he fired his helmet across the field. Third-base coach Matt Williams escorted Upton off the field, and the right fielder did not get tossed until he said something while heading down the dugout steps.
"Matty actually got Justin off the field, and Marquez came over and was kind of rabbit-earing the dugout, and that's where Justin got ran right there," Gibson said.
Gibson was unsure why Marquez had come toward the D-backs' dugout and was in a position to hear Upton.
"Just stay out there," Gibson said referring to Marquez staying near first base. "I thought we did a good job of getting him out of there and getting our guys in the dugout, and that's what you always try to do, so, whatever."
In Gibson's mind, the fracas actually gave the D-backs some energy, and they wound up scoring a run in the eighth to close the deficit to one run.
Bloomquist again felled by stiff back
PITTSBURGH -- Shortstop Willie Bloomquist was a late scratch to the D-backs' lineup before Thursday's 6-3 win against the Pirates after his back stiffened up.
Bloomquist missed time earlier in the road trip with back stiffness, but thought he had gotten past it.
"I don't know what's going on with it," Bloomquist said. "[I] felt fine this morning. I hit early like I normally do and put a little heat pad on it before I went out to [batting practice], and was laying on the table, and went to get off the table, and it just decided to lock up again. I don't know what's going on. It's awful frustrating."
The team will re-evaluate Bloomquist, and it's possible that he will be sent for precautionary tests. He described bending over to put his shoes and socks on postgame as an "adventure."
The D-backs played shorthanded last week while he recovered, and they did so again on Thursday, but manager Kirk Gibson does not like to be left shorthanded.
"I've had this before. I don't think there's anything major, I hope not," Bloomquist said. I don't want to go on the [disabled list] if I don't have to. I don't think it's one of those things that will need two weeks, but I also don't want to hamstring the team, either. Every game is important, and playing a man short is tough. I'm hopeful it's only going to be a couple-of-days thing and I'll be ready to go again."
McDonald prepared to step behind plate
PITTSBURGH -- Given that Ryan Roberts is no longer with the team, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was asked who the team's new emergency catcher is.
John McDonald was Gibson's answer, but he cautioned the media not to let McDonald know that.
Turns out the versatile infielder is well aware of his role. In fact, McDonald, who was the emergency catcher for the Blue Jays during his time in Toronto, has his own catching gear.
"I would love to get behind the plate some day," McDonald said.
To make sure he is prepared in case he's needed, McDonald has caught a couple of bullpen sessions, and with the Blue Jays, he once caught every member of the rotation while they threw bullpen sessions over a two-week stretch.
The closest McDonald has actually come to seeing game action was catching live batting practice during Spring Training with the Blue Jays.
"It's an extreme last resort," McDonald said of a team using their emergency catcher. "So it will be a very unusual circumstance to get me behind the plate."
So he's not going to lobby Gibson for an inning back there at some point?
"No," he said. "But if that opportunity ever comes about, I'll be really excited to throw that gear on and try to do my best."