Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Cardinals' Holland Needs to Find the Reset Button

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Cardinals' Holland Needs to Find the Reset Button

Article excerpt

Greg Holland was serenaded with boos again Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, and he got off lightly because a great majority of the crowd started heading to the exits just before he took the mound in the ninth inning.

It's as though many in the crowd viewed Holland's presence as an act of surrender, which sadly isn't far from reality for the Cardinals' most expensive reliever.

It's painful to watch Holland these days. The former All-Star needs to hit the reset button, and it seems ridiculous to assume he can get himself straightened out under the bright lights of Busch Stadium or any other big league stadium.

Manager Mike Matheny, who is trying his best to get his veteran reliever right, feels for Holland.

"He's trying everything too," Matheny said. "The guy cares. He's embarrassed because this isn't the kind of pitcher that he is. We're hurting for him because we know that those of us who have been through bad runs, you feel like you got the weight of the whole team on your shoulders."

To his credit, Holland doesn't make excuses. He's adamant that he's healthy. Something is clearly wrong, though.

He wouldn't have become one of the best closers in baseball in recent years if he weren't supremely confident and talented, but the Cardinals cannot afford to wait on him to stumble through more games while trying to reach his usual level.

Holland must understand that his mere presence on the 25-man roster these days puts Matheny in a difficult spot. When you're trying to win big league games, you cannot afford to waste innings on a pitcher who is lost.

If not for the $14 million contract the Cardinals gave Holland on opening day, the veteran's service time and the collective bargaining agreement, Holland would have already been sent down to Class AAA Memphis to work his problems out.

He has no minor-league options, which thus leaves the Cardinals with few options other than to hope Holland doesn't sink their season. When you've missed the playoffs for the last two seasons by small margins, you know how a few close losses in April and May can prove costly in September.

Matheny has done his part by trying to take the weight of high-leverage situations off Holland's shoulders.

The Cardinals brought Holland in with his former Royals teammates leading 3-1 in the top of the ninth. The game was still close and there was still hope until Holland imploded yet again.

Abraham Almonte greeted Holland with a leadoff single to right. Alcides Escobar followed with a single through the right side. Then Holland walked Hunter Dozier to load the bases. Then Jon Jay added a two-run single to center, giving the Royals a 5-1 lead.

"You have situations where he's been (in) games ahead and it just hasn't worked out," Matheny said. "Then just trying to get him right and it hasn't worked out. …

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