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Matt Holliday Leaves Game After Moth Flies into His Ear

We really aren’t trying to beat this weird injury thing into the ground — honestly.  For some reason the theme just keeps coming up.  It’s like an epidemic in the MLB this year that is wiping a solid chunk of the league.  Playoff rosters should expand to 42 players instead of 40 to leave room for the bizarre injury bug.

Although you may not consider the incident Matt Holliday had last night to be an actual injury, it was arguably the strangest thing that’s ever forced a baseball player from a game.  If you thought Rafael Furcal’s tripping incident, Chris Narveson’s scissor mishap, or Chris Davis’ bedtime bruising were strange, get a load of what happened to Holliday during Monday night’s game against the Dodgers.

The Cardinals outfielder had to be removed from the game in the eighth inning after a moth flew into his right ear and became lodged in the canal.  Holliday rushed off the field pulling at his ear and appeared to be in pain.  The creepiest part about the whole thing is the moth was still alive inside his ear. Here is a video of the incident:

The Cardinals trainers brought Holliday into a dark room hoping that the moth would fly toward the light and out of his ear. No, this is not a joke.  When that didn’t work, the trainers used tweezers to reach inside his ear and pull the moth out.  It was still alive.  Naturally, Matt took the insect home for a souvenir.  Your move, Rafael Nadal.

Matt Holliday, Adam Dunn Returning Quickly from Appendix Operations

Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn learned from watching a television report about Matt Holliday that he might have an appendix ready to burst. Much like Holliday, Dunn has also followed a quick path to recovery and is likely to return to the diamond before long. What makes the return of both players to the field pretty remarkable is how little time it’s taking each player to recover from surgery.

Holliday had his appendectomy on Friday, April 1st and was already back in the lineup on Sunday April 10th, just nine days later. He was initially expected to miss 4-6 weeks, and then later projected to miss 3-4 weeks by the club. Later we learned the Cardinals were not even going to place him on the disabled list and that Holliday would be back in less than two weeks. He was, and he went 1-for-3 with two walks, a run, and an RBI in his first game back Sunday.

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Matt Holliday to Have Appendectomy, Things Get Worse for Cardinals

Only one game into the 2011 MLB season, and it is already extremely difficult to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  The most significant blow for the Birds came over a month ago, when Adam Wainwright was lost for the season to Tommy John’s surgery — an injury that could sink St. Louis in itself.  Optimists shook off the loss by reasoning that the Cardinals still boast a lineup that features Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, two of the best hitters in the National League.  Then Holliday went down.

According to StlToday.com, Holliday will miss at least four to six weeks after undergoing an appendectomy on Friday.  Obviously it’s better this happens now than four months from now, but Tony La Russa will need to do a great job of keeping spirits up in the clubhouse given all the adversity his team has already faced.

We already know the Cardinals’ pitching rotation will be significantly weaker all season without its ace.  Over the next month or so, they’ll need players like Lance Berkman and Colby Rasmus to step up and produce runs.  The good news is it can’t possibly get much worse, can it?

Matt Holliday Willing to Rework Contract to Keep Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols has been very clear about his contract situation with the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the best all-around players in the history of the game, Pujols has given the Cards and his agent a deadline of Feb. 16 to work out a contract extension. By that time, he wants to focus on training camp and get ready for the season. According to SI’s Jon Heyman, the two sides are worlds apart just five days shy of the deadline.

Fear not, Cardinals fans.  Matt Holliday wants to help.  Well, maybe you should still be afraid if Pujols is seriously asking for 10 years at $300 million, but at least there are people trying to make it work.  According to MLB.com writer Matthew Leach via Hardball Talk, Holliday is willing to defer some of his salary if it would help retain Pujols.

I deferred $2 million a year for the whole contract and I would be willing, if they came to me and said, “Hey, this is what it’s going to take to get Albert done, would you do it again or do more?” Scott [Boras] probably wouldn’t like me to stay that, but if that’s what it took, I would be willing to do that.”

Pujols is going to be seeking the largest contract in MLB history, and deservedly so.  For that reason, I don’t know how much $2 million per year over the next six years — or $12 million — will help the situation.  What I will say is that the gesture is nice and it’s something you rarely see in an era where professional athletes look to squeeze out every penny they can with their contracts.

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Cardinals Sign Lance Berkman, May Move Matt Holliday to Right Field

The St. Louis Cardinals were always mentioned as a team interested in free agent Lance Berkman, but I never thought that would happen. St. Louis has Albert Pujols at first base and being a National League team eliminates the DH option (unless they’re paying $8 mil for strictly a World Series DH). Berkman did sign a one-year $8 million deal with the Cardinals on Saturday making it a virtual certainty that he will be moved to the outfield.

Berkman has played first base exclusively the past three years. He played right field for 31 games in 2007 and center field for one game. The last time he played the outfield predominatly in a season was 2004, and it was 2003 where he played left field almost exclusively. Jon Heyman says the Cardinals will have Berkman play left field and move Matt Holliday, who has played left field exclusively his entire career, to right field.

Holliday has offered to move to right field which should not be too difficult of a transition, so long as he’s not trying to catch balls with his cup. $8 million is a lot for a guy who only hit .248 with 14 home runs last season, making it an expensive gamble for a team that has a limited payroll. The true value of the contract depends on Berkman’s ability to have a bounceback year; if he knocks in 90 runs and hits 25 homers with his typical .900 OPS, he’ll be worth the money. Hitting in the same lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should bring out the best in Berkman.

I Hope Matt Holliday Was Wearing a Cup!

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Could there have been a more disappointing loss for the Cardinals than what happened to them on Thursday night? They got an absolute gem from Adam Wainwright and an early lead from Matt Holliday only to see it all go up in flames in the most disheartening of ways. The Dodgers were losing by a run and down to their final strike when James Loney hit a liner into left and Matt Holliday made an error that won’t soon be forgotten by Cardinals fans. St. Louis is saying Holliday lost the ball in the sea of towels the fans were waving and that’s why he missed it. Let’s see, white ball, white towels — I could easily see that happening. Holliday says he lost it in the lights which is just as easily possible. Either way, that gaff led to the unraveling of Ryan Franklin who then gave up a walk, hit, wild pitch, walk, and game-winning hit to make it 3-2 and 2-0 in favor of the Dodgers.

Now the only thing I will pick on Holliday for is saying that the ball hit him in the stomach. Come on, Matt, this replay will be shown over and over — we all know where it hit you. Just own it. Holliday’s a good enough player — an MVP-type player — where this won’t define him. His bat gave them the lead and his play helped the Cardinals get to where they are. Let’s not forget that Franklin still had to allow four straight batters to reach base for them to lose. Down 2-0 doesn’t mean the Cards are done — as Albert Pujols said, if they can win 11 in a row, why can’t they win three straight?

Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

So Mark McGwire’s Been Working as a Hitting Instructor Lately

As much as Mark McGwire tries to stay out of the spotlight — for which he’s done a damn good job — he’s been in the news quite a bit lately. First Deadspin caught some sections of the book Jay McGwire has written that details Mark’s use of steroids while playing baseball. Now Matt Holliday says he and Bobby Crosby have been working on hitting with McGwire over the offseason. I knew that McGwire’s worked with both Chris and Shelley Duncan, likely because their father is the Cardinals pitching coach — Dave Duncan. I didn’t know that McGwire’s become a full-fledged hitting instructor, which is how it’s coming across. I’ll let you draw the obvious connections between McGwire/Holliday/Crosby and steroids while I talk about how the whole thing started.

When the Rockies were in Southern California for an interleague series against the Angels in 2006, introductions were arranged through Rockies assistant coach Mike Gallego, a former teammate of McGwire’s with the A’s.

“They took a liking to each other,” Gallego said of McGwire and Holliday. “They have a lot of the same qualities, as far as their size and the expectations of when they walk up to the plate. Him and Mac clicked well. Both are guys that are not afraid to work. He’s been good to him.”

Holliday, whose biceps and power has really increased the past few seasons, is very much like McGwire in that they were both massive individuals since the day they entered the league. Holliday’s power really has increased beginning in 2006, when he had his first of back-to-back 30 home run seasons. While McGwire’s reputation is being increasingly sullied by his brother Jay (that appearance on Capitol Hill sure didn’t help), at least it appears as if he’s still trying to make a positive impact on the game by working with hitters. It’s reasons like this that Big Mac gets more of a benefit of the doubt than say a Barry Bonds when it comes to discussions of character.