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Freese heats it up in FloridaPosted Thursday, March 22, 2012, at 7:51 AM
By COREY NOLES
To say that Cardinals third baseman David Freese ended the 2012 season on a high note is the understatement of the year.
Between breaking records, MVPs and being the key component in one of, if not the, most exciting game in World Series history, Freese stepped up in a big way.
Throughout the offseason, Freese appeared on talk shows, news shows, sitcoms, magazine covers and t-shirts across the country.
I, on the other hand, spent the winter concerned about the effect such intense media exposure could have on him.
When he arrived in Jupiter, Fla. in February, however, he showed that he is ready to pick up where he left off.
So far this spring, he leads the team in homeruns (3) and RBIs (10). While he's only hitting .250 at the moment, he looks like a guy who is close to picking up right where he left off. With a .571 slugging percentage, when he does get a piece of the ball, he;s knocking the cover off of it.
One of the biggest downfalls for Freese this year is that no matter what he does, it will likely pale in comparison to his October heroics. A "great" season, should not be over-shadowed by a "legendary" postseason.
As a fan, try not to fall into that trap. To expect anyone to keep up what he did throughout the playoffs in un-realistic. I fully expect to see glimmers of it, but no one is all clutch, all of the time.
The number one thing I hope to see from Freese this year is to see him on the field consistently. Having never played in 100 games in his career, there will be a lot expected of him this season. All of the heroics in the world don't mean much if you don't take to the field every day - or at least almost every day.
I firmly believe he is capable of being a 30 homerun/90 RBI player if his body will let him. Hitting coach Mark McGwire has repeatedly praised his ability, and I think he was right.
He's still growing defensively and seems to be making good progress. This year he needs to prove that he has staying power, and is not another World Series MVP who fades away in the next couple of years.
It has happened to plenty of players over the years, but I don't think he will be one of them.
Frankly, Cardinals fans need the "local boy does well" to succeed. Despite winning a World Championship, the fans really took one on the chin in the Albert Pujols deal. It's likely that we'll never know without a doubt what went down. I believe there is probably some truth to both sides.
Regardless of how it happens, the fans still need to feel that magic when they walk into the stadium. And rest assured, it will be there. I can't say who it will come from or when it will happen, but as is tradition, the magic always gets there just in time.
I can't count the number of times I've walked into that stadium over the years, but every time, win or lose, I love every minute of it.
Whether it's being within feet of your heroes or the smell of that first Busch Stadium hot dog of the year, it brings back that feeling of being a young boy again. The first time of the year when I step through those gates, the first thing I think about is how bad I wanted to be a big leaguer when I was little. I look at the field and I always imagine what it would be like to stand in that batters box during the World Series with 40,000 screaming fans and have a moment like Freese did in Game 6.
I'll never know that feeling, but I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to witness him have his moment. I cherish that just like I would if it was my own.
Hopefully, sometime in the future, we'll get to see another one just like it. Who knows, it might just be this year.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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