|Matt Holliday ready for new season after missing out on MVP but cashing in on contract|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 22 February 2008 09:43|
Pitchers and catchers for the Colorado Rockies were working on pickoff moves and covering first base on three other fields. But the real drama for the defending National League champions was on Field 2, where Holliday was putting on a clinic in a voluntary workout designed to loosen up the hitters.
Colorado's talented slugger was in midseason form with his bat and playful jabs at teammates.
Cory Sullivan, four inches shorter and 55 pounds lighter than Holliday, shared the voluntary batting practice session with the left fielder, spraying line drives along with the occasional flyball.
``Come on, you're not even going to get one on Field 2?'' Holliday ribbed his teammate.
Sullivan responded by swinging as hard as he could, and the ball bounced off the fence.
``Double,'' he muttered.
``I'll give you that one,'' said Holliday, who, by unofficial count, had already provided two dozen souvenirs to the kids and not-so-young spring training junkies staked out on the other side of the fence.
Sullivan, owner of eight career homers in 904 career big-league at-bats, blamed his bat.
Holliday walked over in mock disgust, tossed his own 33-ounce, 34-inch slugger to Sullivan and snatched Sullivan's 31 1/2-ouncer, sauntering back to the cage like a lumberjack with a toothpick.
``My bat seemed to have no power in it,'' Sullivan said later. ``His bat usually does, so I took his and he took mine.''
Not a good trade.
Sullivan fared no better with Holliday's heavier hardwood, struggling to get the barrel through the strike zone quick enough to give him any pop.
Holliday, who has 103 career homers in four big league seasons, went right on needling Sullivan, not with his verbal tweaks but with his continued jolts.
Holliday took only a handful of days off after the Rockies were swept by Boston in the World Series before resuming his training regimen and he was among the first position players to arrive at camp last week. He is coming off one of the best seasons in NL history, winning the batting crown with a .340 average and leading the league with 137 RBIs to go with his 36 home runs and 50 doubles.
Holliday scored the winning run in the 13th inning of the Rockies' 9-8 wild-card tiebreaker over San Diego, then earned MVP honors in the NL championship series sweep of Arizona that gave the Rockies their first pennant.
He also was the major league leader in player balloting for the All-Star game.
The award he coveted more, however, eluded him: Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins edged him for the NL MVP.
``I didn't lose any sleep over it,'' Holliday said, ``but I'm not going to say I wasn't a little bit disappointed.''
The big postseason award wasn't his, but Holliday did get a $23 million, two-year contract that the Rockies hope is a first step toward keeping him in a Colorado uniform long-term.
While Holliday says he's gotten over the disappointment of not winning the MVP, he's still hot that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was shut out in the postseason awards.
Tulowitzki was edged by Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for NL Rookie of the Year and lost out to Rollins for the Gold Glove despite posting the highest fielding percentage (.987) by any rookie shortstop in major league history.
``Yeah, it bothered me that Troy didn't win any award,'' Holliday said. ``For a rookie to have the impact he had and to play the defense he played, to have that kind of rookie season on a team that made it to the World Series, who played such a crucial position? For him not to get any postseason awards, I thought was a little bit ridiculous.''
That Holliday seems more invested in his teammate's snub than his own is indicative of the Rockies' selfless clubhouse in which even the superstars are subject to good-natured needling and big egos are nonexistent - where the muscular slugger gives unmitigated grief to the light-hitting backup outfielder, even swiping his bat to prove a point.
``Well, I think we do a good job of keeping each other in check,'' Holliday said. ``No one's off limits to be made fun of or teased or any of that. So, we try to make sure nobody feels like they're too big for their britches.''