Matt Holliday Feels Lance Berkman’s Impact Has Been ‘Huge’ So Far This Season For The Cardinals On-And-Off The Field

May 6, 2011 – 7:15 am by Steven Cuce

After finishing last season an underachieving ten games above .500 at 86-76, the St.Louis Cardinals looked to get back to form this season despite losing star pitcher Adam Wainwright for the year. The offense has carried the Cardinals to start the season. St.Louis is currently the leader of the NL Central at 18-14 having the most one-run losses in the National League. The hot hitting of Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman has lead the Cardinals offense so far, which is a surprising thing to say considering that Albert Pujols is the most feared hitter in baseball. I don’t think anyone expected Lance Berkman to be hitting .392with 10 home runs and 32 runs batted in so far this season after he looked so sluggish with the Yankees at the end of last year. Matt Holliday hasn’t had a start for himself either hitting .417 with 4 homeruns and 23 runs batted in. Holliday doesn’t want to blame last year’s poor play on bad clubhouse chemistry, but he feels Berkman has made a huge difference for the Cardinals on-and-off the field.

Matt Holliday joined KFNS in St.Louis with The Morning After Show to discuss his hot hitting so far this season, the impact that Lance Berkman has brought to the Cardinals, noticing a difference in the clubhouse culture this year, knowing the Cardinals lineup can get the team back in every game they trail and how he handles all of the one-run losses the Cardinals have had this season.

You’ve put up some good numbers in your career, but have you ever had a time where you’ve hit this well in an extended period of time like this six week stretch?

“I don’t think so. I mean I have to go back and really try to look at it, but I’d say it’s right up there with any sweet period that I’ve had. I’ve probably had six week periods where I’ve had more home runs, but as far as an average and getting on-base I’d probably say no.”

Talk about the success of Lance Berkman so far and what impact he brings to the clubhouse?

“Well I think he…obviously his performance has been the best in the league and I think the fact that he didn’t win player of the month is a joke. Anyway he’s had a huge impact on our lineup and particularly with Albert Pujols off to a little bit of a slow start it’s really been important for Lance to be off to such a great start. His influence in the clubhouse has been great. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s funny and he gets along really well with everybody, so it always nice to add a guy like that to the mix and it’s been a lot of fun getting to know him and getting a chance to be around him and his family and it’s been a great addition so far.”

Do you notice a difference in the clubhouse this season compared to last season?

“Well I think you don’t blame losses…losses are not achieving what you want in a clubhouse. I don’t think that’s right. I think having a group like this with the additions we made and the way everybody kind of fits together it makes it a lot of fun to go to the clubhouse and it’s a lot of fun to show up every day whether you won the night before or lost the night before. You’re excited to go back and hang out with the guys and there’s always something going on, everybody is goofing around, somebody is doing something funny. You can just sit around and talk and find guys hanging out and telling stories, getting to know each other and that makes it a lot more fun. I think it makes coming to the park more fun and working hard…you are more excited to go to the field and I think that ends up translating into playing better and ultimately having a great season. So like I said I wouldn’t blame us not making the playoffs last year on chemistry, but at the same time it is an element I think where a lot more guys are having a lot more fun this year.”

Is it a tangible thing for you guys to know when you’re down a few runs you now have the lineup to get the team back in any game?

“Yeah I think so. I think we understand we have a really good offense. We think up and down the lineup guys are having good at-bats and if we keep grinding it out and keep getting after it eventually we’re going to get some runs. So I think this team doesn’t panic being down early or maybe having a three or four run deficit that if we put together five or six quality at-bats in a row then we have a chance to score two or three or four runs and put the potential of big hom erun somewhere in there. I think nobody panics. Nobody gets real nervous about a three run deficit, which last year seemed quite a bit. We had a tough time scoring six or seven runs in a game. This year we have been able to score anywhere from five to seven runs quite often. I think it is a good sign and we need to try to continue to put big numbers on offense and score runs.”

How do you take these close losses the Cardinals have had this year? The team has lost a quite a few one runs game? Is it a good sign that you are close in every game played this year despite having the most one-run losses in the league?

“I take it pretty hard in the stomach. I feel like I’m going to get an ulcer. I think these games are starting to make me…I would like to see more of the 7-1 or 7-2 variety where in the 9th inning you’re waiting for the third out so that you go can go in and eat and go home and go think about a big win. I think it’s good. I think we have a good team. I think we have a lot of fun to play on and it’s a good thing we have been pretty competitive, but at the same time I would like for us to collect the easy victory variety and less of the nerve racking down to the last pitch type of deal, so that’s how I look at it.”

Listen to Matt Holliday on KFNS in St.Louis here [Interview starts at 5:40 in the podcast]

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