Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 2/13/12
ST. LOUIS Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday doesn't plan on forfeiting the upcoming season just because three-time MVP Albert Pujols decided to leave for the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason. As the Cardinals look to defend their World Series Championship, Holliday knows he and the rest of the team will just have to do a little bit more to make up for the nine-time All-Star's loss. "I think we all really have to step our games up and fill that void," Holliday said. "There's no one person we're asking to do that. Collectively I think we can do that and I still think we have a great team and a great chance to go where we want to go, which is back to the playoffs and back to the World Series. "I'm disappointed he's not coming back but we have to move on and we have lots of very good players and lots of good guys and I think we can do it." After a year in which he suffered a wrath of fluky injuries that included having to leave a game early because a moth got stuck in his ear, Holliday hopes things will even out this year. The five-time All-Star spent time on the disabled list with a quad strain, limiting his numbers to one of the least productive seasons of his eight-year career. Holliday's batting average (.296) and RBI (75) were the lowest since his rookie year in 2004 while his home runs (22), runs scored (83) and doubles (36) were his lowest since 2005. But in addition to hoping Holliday's production improves, the Cardinals will be looking to the slugger to help become more of a leader off the field as well. With Pujols and retired manager Tony La Russa out of the picture, Holliday will be one of the veterans expected to shoulder additional responsibilities in the clubhouse. And that appears to be fine with him. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes," Holliday said. "I've played on teams that didn't have Albert before. I've batted third before. I've played in the World Series before. I'm available for whatever is asked of me. I work for the St. Louis Cardinals and if the job description changes and there is more asked of me, that's part of my job. "I try to be myself, no matter who is on the team. We've got lots of really good older players that are good at leading people and are good leaders so I think our clubhouse will be fine and my role is to go out there and play as hard as I can and do the best that I can and offer advice where need be and be myself." Usually reserved to the areas banned to the media before and after games, Holliday has made himself much more accessible this offseason. He's called three St. Louis sports talk radio shows unannounced and unscheduled, doing so on one occasion to defend himself after the host said he was always injured. The target of some unfair criticism dating back to a dropped fly ball in the 2009 Division Series in Los Angeles, Holliday appears ready to change his image. As the new face of the Cardinals franchise, he's ready for whatever will come his way. "If the situation or things call for a different scenario now or I need to be a little stronger in the leadership category or do more things for the team, " Holliday said. "I've done it before and I can do it again."
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