Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 3/14/12
JUPITER, Fla. -- If Matt Holliday is felling any extra pressure to produce with three-time MVP Albert Pujols gone from the lineup, he's sure not letting on so far. Holliday went 3-for-4 Wednesday in the Cardinals' 4-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Houston Astros, raising his spring average to .462 in five games. "It doesn't mean anything," Holliday said of the fast start. "It's nice to get a few hits but really, you're just trying to gear yourself towards the season. "It's always nice to get hits but you're just working on your swing and trying to recognize pitches and work counts and if you get results at the plate, then good." When Pujols signed a 10-year, 240 million deal with the Anaheim Angels in December, questions instantly turned towards Holliday and his ability to carry the load both in and out of the clubhouse. A fluky 2011 season caused the left fielder to miss time for a variety of reasons, from an emergency appendicitis the first week of the season to a moth getting stuck in his ear while he stood in the outfield. Holliday was also forced from the lineup because of a weight room incident that injured his back and spent time on the disabled list with a strained quad. As a result, the five-time All-Star finished with some of the lowest numbers of his career, hitting .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in 124 games. With Pujols gone, Holliday instantly took over as the face of the franchise. He's the highest paid player and is expected to hit in the former slugger's traditional No. 3 spot in the lineup. But none of that seems to bother Holliday, who seems at ease this spring and could be primed for a big season at the plate. "Trying harder or trying to produce more never really does that," Holliday said. "I have high expectations for myself. I do every year. I come in expecting to have a great season and this year is no different." The five-time All-Star began the transformation this offseason, making himself more available to the media. He called at least three St. Louis talk radio stations unscheduled, one time challenging the host's claim that he was always injured. Holliday has taken to the new leadership role, inviting prospects Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Ryan Jackson and Charlie Tilson to St. Louis for a weekend of hitting and baseball workouts during the winter. "For somebody to say, Hey, this is going to be your team, this is going to revolve around you,' and everything that's been said," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think he just takes it and realizes, I have a job to do no matter what's said. Talk is cheap, whether it's positive or negative, I know what I can do and I want to prove it.' "That's what I see. Has he said that to me verbatim? No, but I just see a guy going about his business and is ready to compete." Three weeks from Opening Day, Holliday looks ready to go.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker