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Future team talk can wait for Holliday

Monday, July 27, 2009 | 8:01 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Matt Holliday is in no hurry to talk about the future. Neither are the St. Louis Cardinals, who want to sign him to a long-term contract.

General manager John Mozeliak said Monday he expected talks with Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, at some point. Holliday is making $13.5 million in the final year of a three-year contract.

"Right now, I want him to experience St. Louis and just see how he likes it," Mozeliak said. "Trying to push something at this point doesn't make sense."

Chairman Bill DeWitt considers the recent acquisitions of Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo more than rentals to put the team over the top. Holliday and DeRosa are due for free agency while Lugo has one year to go on his contract.

Ownership has had great success locking up star players soon after acquiring them, getting Mark McGwire, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds to sign long-term deals.

"Certainly we'd love to sign Matt Holliday long-term and that'll be our objective," DeWitt said. "You hope they'll get in this atmosphere and want to stay here."

Holliday was 7 for 11 in his first three games with the Cardinals, including a 4-hit game in his debut Friday that matched his career high. He was again batting cleanup behind Albert Pujols in his home debut with St. Louis in the opener of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.

So far, he's non-committal about his contract status.

"I'm going to enjoy myself and try to help this team get to the playoffs and to the World Series and work every day I can to be the best player I can be," Holliday said. "And leave it there. I think there's a time and a place for all those other things and when that time comes is when I'll do my evaluating."

Holliday described himself as "sort of a Cardinal fan" growing up in Stillwater, Okla. He was a .385 career hitter at 4-year-old Busch Stadium with five homers and seven RBIs in 39 at-bats.

"I'm excited to be here, and I'm excited to play in front of great fans at a great stadium," Holliday said. "Obviously, everyone says it's the greatest place to play baseball in the world and my experience here three to six times a year was nothing but excellent."

Following the flurry of trades to strengthen the lineup, the Cardinals have a need for a stronger fifth starter than Todd Wellemeyer, 7-9 with a 5.79 ERA. Mozeliak said the team likely would seek to strengthen that spot from within with manager Tony La Russa refusing to commit to Wellemeyer's next start on Friday.

La Russa said because of several off days coming up, the team might not need a fifth starter very often for a while.

"Right now," Mozeliak said, "this is our team."

Rookie outfielder Colby Rasmus had a second cortisone injection for a bruised left heel on Monday and was not in the lineup, but could return on Tuesday.

The Cardinals brought in 16-year-old outfielder Wagner Mateo, who got a $3.1 million signing bonus earlier this month, for a look at Busch Stadium. Wearing uniform number 09, Mateo took batting practice before the game.

 


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