Fall 2021 SS Magazine

'Hard-nosed,' high character Nolan Arenado becomes St. Louis Cardinals 3B

It almost made too much sense. After much courting that dates back to at least last spring, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Colorado Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado over the weekend in a trade that became official on Monday.

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The Cardinals are sending a package of young players and prospects to Colorado for the 29-year-old eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star.

The organization knew what it was getting in Arenado the baseball player, but former Cardinal Matt Holliday said they’re also getting a solid guy whose faith in God guides him.

Holliday, who played with Arenado in 2018 with the Rockies and remains good friends with him, said Arenado will fit in well with the culture in St. Louis, and his walk with Jesus will benefit from being around other believers in the clubhouse.

“Well, I think the thing that they’ll love, as far as a baseball standpoint, is his intensity for the game, his love for the game, his work ethic, how serious he takes it,” Holliday told Sports Spectrum. “I think they’ll love his intensity and the way that he plays the game every day. I think that’s something Cardinal fans appreciate.

“I think you’ll see him involved and doing things in the community. I would say he’s a little bit more shy, maybe, publicly than some guys in the past, but I think he’s a tremendous person, a great teammate. He’s just kind of a hard-nosed ballplayer and loves the game, and I think that’s something that Cardinals fans have always appreciated.”

Arenado keeps a pretty low-key profile. He’s not on social media and isn’t real big on self-promotion. He spends most of his time on the field working on his craft, just trying to get better.

His routine is mostly centered around his faith, playing baseball, and doing life with his wife, Laura, and those in his circle.

Arenado has already built a strong relationship with some of the Cardinal players, namely Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt, both of whom will help him strengthen his relationship with Jesus, Holliday said.

He’ll also be surrounded by other believers like pitchers Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty, manager Mike Shildt, and bench coach Oliver Marmol.

Holliday said Arenado is “thrilled to be a part of the organization and part of the history of the Cardinals” and he will easily mesh with team. It’s a lot of the same emotions he felt when he was traded to the Cardinals in 2009 from the Oakland Athletics, Holliday said.

“Any time, if anybody ever gets the chance to be around Adam (Wainwright), they’re positively impacted,” Holliday said. “He has an amazing way of influencing and having a positive effect on guys with their spiritual walk. I don’t think Nolan will be any different. I think Adam, and a lot of those guys — Matt Carpenter — they’ll have a positive impact on Nolan. That culture will be a positive one and I think that that’s something that I’m excited to see.”

Arenado was on Sports Spectrum’s Table Forty Podcast with Matt and Leslee Holliday last June and he talked about how important his faith is to him. He talked about growing up learning how to treat people with respect and love, and how his parents instilled integrity in him at an early age.

He has a heart for inner-city kids and hopes to be able to give back in some way to help the youth succeed, he said. The Cardinals organization is heavily involved in a variety of charities in the St. Louis area.

Arenado — who has Matthew 19:26 tattooed on his left forearm — has been quick to give God the glory for the success he’s had on the baseball field, saying he realizes how blessed he is to be able to do what he does and hopes he can do it for a long time.

“God’s blessed me with this opportunity and I just feel like I don’t want to lose it and I don’t want to nonchalant it,” he said on the podcast. “I wanted to go as hard as I can. It’s going to end. It’s going to end one day, and I understand that. I just want it to last as long as it can.”

With Arenado in the fold, the Cardinals look poised to make a legitimate run at their 12th World Series championship. While he might be a big part of any success the team has, don’t expect him to want the spotlight.

“I’ll never take credit for this career,” he said on the podcast. “It’s all Him.”

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