Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Farewell Homer, Cardinals Ask Holliday for an Encore

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Farewell Homer, Cardinals Ask Holliday for an Encore

Article excerpt

When Matt Holliday stepped into the batter's box Friday night for his first at-bat since going on the disabled list in early August, he had to take a breath, inhale the ovation, and then wipe tears from his eyes before he could focus on the pitch headed toward him. He admitted early Saturday morning that he felt like that was his last at-bat of his Cardinals career.

A few hours later he had another one, even more important than the last.

A day after a pinch-hit home run seemed to bring closure to his 7 seasons with the club, Holliday delivered a pinch-hit RBI single that helped the Cardinals to a 4-3 victory against Pittsburgh and kept alive their postseason aspirations. As the Cardinals prepared for Saturday's game, Holliday said he "would prefer for (Friday's) to be the last at-bat." Manager Mike Matheny approached him in the dugout during a game the Cardinals trailed 3-0 with another idea.

"It came down to we got in the middle of that game and just letting him know he's the guy we want up there in a key situation," Matheny said. "He responded by running to the clubhouse and getting his stuff and getting loose."

This impromptu farewell weekend the Cardinals hatched Friday afternoon for Holliday did not guarantee an appearance for him and yet now has included two pinch-hit appearances, a homer, and the first two pinch-hit RBIs of the 36-year-old's career. The Cardinals notified their All-Star that his 2017 option will not be picked up. Any interest the Cardinals have in bringing Holliday back will be determined by whether they're successful reshaping their lineup or outfield, and one of the openings the Cardinals now have is in left field or in center if they move Randal Grichuk.

Holliday was too "emotional" to discuss the club's decision before or after his home run Friday. Early Saturday morning he met outside the Cardinals' batting cages with two beat writers from The Post-Dispatch and MLB.com and described a "surreal" finale.

That's how he sees it.

When asked if he expected to return, Holliday said: "I doubt it."

"To be honest with you, I would say that barring some sort of scenario where a lot of things change it felt like this is probably it," he continued. …

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