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Holliday's arrival elicits glee from Cards

Holliday's arrival elicits glee from Cards

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PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Holliday had a hectic Friday afternoon.

After taking a train from New York -- where the A's, his former squad, was preparing to face the Yankees -- Holliday arrived at Citizens Bank park around 5 p.m. ET. That gave him just enough time for a few handshakes in the road dressing room before he had to attend a hitters-only meeting. Then he had to run to a news conference, officially announcing the trade that sent him to the Cardinals for top prospect Brett Wallace and two other Minor Leaguers.

But while Holliday was trying to get acclimated with his new teammates, they already knew plenty about him.

"I think everyone's excited," right fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "Any time you can have a guy like him in the lineup with you, of that caliber, it's a good feeling."

From 2006-08, Holliday hit .329 and averaged 31 homers and 113 RBIs. He was an All-Star in all three campaigns and will hit cleanup in St. Louis, providing some protection for Albert Pujols.

"He's a great, great player," said Pujols, who leads the Majors with 34 intentional walks. Chipper Jones and Adrian Gonzalez are tied for second, with 13 apiece.

Added closer Ryan Franklin: "Not only the bat. He's a good outfielder, too."

Holliday, 29, has at least one clubhouse buddy. During the offseason, he worked out with legend Mark McGwire and second baseman Skip Schumaker, who was particularly impressed by Holliday's work ethic.

Holliday was already taking swings in October, months before many players begin their offseason hitting.

And with rumors then swirling that Holliday could be dealt to the Cardinals, the pair had a chance to discuss that possibility.

"He expressed his want to come over here, because he knew what kind of baseball city it was," Schumaker said. "And he really, really wanted to come to St. Louis."

Now, of course, that dream is reality. And the front office's support -- and desire to win now -- is something that resonated throughout the team.

"I've been in organizations where they're not going to do anything," Franklin said. " So that means a lot that the organization is wanting to try to help us out."

The Cardinals acquired Mark DeRosa from the Indians in June and added veteran shortstop Julio Lugo in a deal with the Red Sox on Wednesday. DeRosa and Holliday can both become free agents at the end of the year.

St. Louis entered Friday night's matchup against the Phillies with a one-game lead in the National League Central, and with Holliday is now the favorite to win the division.

"It shows us that they're in it to win, and they're not here to rebuild," Schumaker said. "You never know if we're going to get [DeRosa and Holliday] back. So they know that this might be the year for us to make the push.

"It doesn't put any more pressure. ... Any time you can add a guy like that, it makes us more motivated than anything."

David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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