Seven-time All Star Matt Holliday is getting ready to play in his fourteenth season in Major League Baseball. Although this time around, he finds himself in a different situation, as a member of the New York Yankees. On the eve of his first Spring Training in pinstripes, Holliday joined The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday and talked about his excitement.
“Obviously having been in St. Louis for the past seven plus years, it’s definitely different, and I feel like the new kid at school a little bit,” Holliday laughed. “[I’m] not quite as comfortable heading into Spring Training maybe as I have been the last six or seven years, but I’m excited to be a part of the Yankees organization and looking forward to getting to know the guys in spring training and meeting some of these young players and getting around some of this young talent and some of the older guys that I know a little bit like C.C. [Sabathia] and Chase Headley and some of these guys.
“So I’m excited this is about the time of year baseball players get a little antsy and ready for some competition and start to get around the boys again.”
As much as Holliday is excited about his new challenge with New York, the 37-year-old took a moment to talk about the end of his tenure in St. Louis. Considering he was injured late in the 2016 season, Holliday sensed the organization wasn’t likely to pick up his $17 million option for 2017. So instead of waiting it out to season’s end, Holliday asked management about his standing with the team before their final series.
“I thought towards the end of the season I figured at that point, with a broken thumb, that John Mozeliak had made the decision on whether or not to pick up my option, whether or not he wanted to even try to look at bringing me back,” Holliday said. “So I just kind of straight up asked him what the plans were for me, and because I figured at that point there was nothing that could happen that would sort of change his mind and I figured he knew, and I was hoping to get an answer, so I could sort of say the goodbyes to people that maybe you don’t get a chance to see a bunch in the rest of your career or maybe in your life, relationships that you had with clubhouse guys and all those people you spend a lot of time with over seven-and-a-half years. So he was pretty candid, and told me, look, this was probably it and go ahead and tell people. Do whatever you want to do, and we’d like to activate you and try to get you an at bat before the season’s out, and I said ok, but obviously we are still in the race for the wild card, and I don’t want anything to affect our season based on the fact that I haven’t had an at bat lately and my thumb is still swollen. If it works out, than great, but obviously if not, I’m perfectly ok with that and so that was kind of how the conversation went.”
That’s when Holliday couldn’t have asked for a better individual way to end his run with St. Louis.
“That night an at bat comes up and Mike’s [Matheny] like, ‘Hey, you’re going to hit,’ and so I was like wow, here we go. So you roll out there, and obviously there’s tons of emotion the way the fans greeted me with that standing ovation and sort of realizing this could potentially be my last at bat as a Cardinal,” Holliday said. “Which has meant a lot to being a Cardinal and just playing there for so long, and the city, and the organization. It was pretty emotional and then getting down 0-2 in the count, I was like man, I hope this doesn’t end in some sort of strikeout or embarrassing, and sort of fighting back the tears I was like you know what, I’ve done this thousands of times and just get in here and compete and see what happens and it sort of was an out of body experience really honestly as I’m rounding the bases to think sort of that that had happen and felt like that was a moment God had given me to kind of close the door on my career in St. Louis.
“It was a special time, and just pretty cool, pretty surreal.”