ST. LOUIS — David Freese has heard from pretty much everyone.
That’s how it works when you’re the local kid playing for the hometown team. When your swing is sweet, the attention is great. When you’re stuck in the stinkiest stretch of hitting you’ve ever had, it can be a little much.
“There are so many people trying to help me,” Freese said.
Whether it comes via Twitter, snail mail or word of mouth, Freese — a career .290 hitter who entered Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers averaging .209 with just four RBIs and no home runs — has received no shortage of suggestions on how to get his big swing back on track.
“Say F-it and just go hit,” Freese said.
His least favorites?
“People talking mechanics,” Freese said. “And they’ve never stepped in the box.”
Freese went with the former tip Friday. In the first inning, he turned a 1-1 changeup from Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta into a 419-foot grand slam that didn’t stop until it landed in the rectangle of lush, green grass that sits above and behind Busch Stadium’s center field wall.
“It was a relief for us,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “I know it’s been weighing on him, not having a ball jump out of the park yet.”
It was the second grand slam of Freese’s career, the first home run he’s had since the first game of last year’s National League Championship Series. Freese — who had just doubled his RBI total for the season with one swing — rounded the bases, a little pressure lifting with each step.
“It was great,” Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia said. “Because you know what kind of talent, and what kind of guy he is.”
The applause increased as Freese ran. It continued after he touched home plate and disappeared into the dugout. His head popped back out, and he waved his batting helmet to cease the curtain call.
“That just shows you what type of fans you play in front of,” Freese said.
In his perfect world, that hit would have been the breakthrough that ended this season’s hitting woes. But baseball doesn’t always work like that. In his next three trips to the plate, he struck out twice and grounded out.
“I don’t even know if I’ve turned the corner,” Freese said after the Cardinals won 7-6. “I had a big hit early on that helped us win. I’m just going to keep on working.”
One thing is certain, though. If the big hits keep coming, the waves of tips will surely cease. Had Freese checked his Twitter yet?
“No,” he said. “No. No, I haven’t.”
His grand slam created quite a stir.
People were offering congratulations instead of advice.