St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese has had an interesting career in St. Louis and it is just getting started. Not only did he run into some trouble off-the-field early on, but he also faced tons of adversity on the field. On a few different occasions, Frees was handed the starting third base gig only to see it slip through his hands because of a lack of production or because of injury. It looked like that was the case last season as well. After getting off to a great start to the season, Freese was injured once again and missed a huge part of the year. Through it all, the club stuck by him and Freese never stopped fighting. Both were rewarded in the postseason. Whether it was in the NLCS against Milwaukee or the World Series against Texas, the hometown kid stole the show in October and helped deliver a World Series to St. Louis.
After a postseason run like he had that was capped off by winning World Series MVP, the expectations will be much higher. With Albert Pujols gone, he will be expected to play a bigger role on offense. The bar has been raised for David Freese and if he is going to build off of last year’s success he will have to do something this season that he has not been able to do, stay healthy.
David Freese joined ESPN 101 in St. Louis with the Fast Lane to talk about whether he needs to improve his defense, what the benefit of playing squash has been for him, if he feels added pressure to have a big season after being named World Series MVP, when he was good enough to play in the majors, and if his mindset has changed because of the success he had in the postseason.
If he feels he needs to improve his defense:
“Yeah absolutely. I always have a chip on my shoulder one way or another. I think that’s kind of what drives me. Even if you kind of sit around and make stuff up to get you going but that is something that I need to prove. I need to continue to hit and do all that stuff but in ’08 I thought I did a pretty good job at third. It’s frustrating not being able to show what I can do day in and day out at third base but hopefully this year I play almost every game, hopefully every game, but I just want to go out there and show everybody I’m a complete player.”
What the benefit of playing squash has been for him:
“It’s just working on quickness. Obviously it’s a heck of a workout and helps your conditioning and getting ready for spring training. (Host: Same movements for a grounder?) Yeah, yeah for the most part it’s just really working on lunging and using your core and truck efficiently. It just gets you in the right vibe for spring training and everything.”
If he feels added pressure to have a big season after being named World Series MVP:
“I think you hear people say ‘can’t wait to see what you do next year and this and that’ but I’m a pretty realistic guy and you get hot in the postseason and in the World Series and you know people sometimes want you to do that for a whole season. I’m obviously a guy who is not expecting myself to be that but I am expecting myself to do my part. I try to keep it at that pace, do what I can, and I’m a guy that gets in trouble when I try to do too much or I try to sit here and show everybody I can pull the ball every pitch. Pull here, pull here, and I get in trouble. I do alright when I stay within myself. That’s just what I’m going to try to do.”
When he knew he was good enough to play in the majors:
“I think you get your cup of coffee. In ’09 I came up, went down, came back up, and finished strong. But in 2010, I know my season got cut in half but I think reflecting on that part of the year and playing three months I told myself ‘hey if you stay healthy you can just fight through this and be successful.’ I think you have to be confident whether you’re right or wrong you’ve got to tell yourself that. But I think going into 2011, after surgery, getting things right for the most part, I was pretty confident that I could try and do my part.”
If his mindset has changed after his success in the postseason:
“My mindset isn’t too different. I think you solidify yourself even more but you still have to go in there saying you’ve got to make this team, you’ve got to make this team. I learned that from guys like Skip (Schumaker) that will tell you just keep plugging along, don’t settle in, and don’t get comfortable. I’m going to go in and I’m going to get down there Monday, get on the field on Tuesday, and just fight for a job so to speak.”