All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who was traded by the Colorado Rockies this off-season, said he has started to mesh better with his new St. Louis Cardinals teammates over the last two weeks. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, April 8 (UPI) -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Nolan Arenado's "greatness behind the scenes" has eased his transition into the clubhouse since his off-season trade from the Colorado Rockies.
Arenado, 29, spent his first eight MLB seasons with the Rockies. Centerpiece of a six-player trade in February, the five-time All-Star its hitting a team-best .360 through six games this season.
The Gold Glove third baseman formed countless relationships, established himself as one of the league's best players and became a staple of the Denver community during his tenure with his former team.
Shildt and Cardinals players said they heard about Arenado's reputation as a hard-working player and good teammate, traits he confirmed through spring training and in the early part of the season.
"It's not anything we didn't know, because we saw him across the field, but now when you are with him on the field we have a chance to see greatness behind the scenes and see that level of dedication in how he goes about his work," Shildt told reporters Wednesday during a Zoom video conference.
"There are no real surprises, but man this guy really is a top, elite, competitive talent. You just appreciate it seeing it and being around it."
Arenado, who signed an eight-year, $260 million contract in 2019 with the Rockies, admitted last week that wasn't "100% comfortable" with his new franchise at first.
The Newport Beach, Calif., native grew up on the West Coast and was drafted out of high school in 2009. He spent years in the Rockies minor league system and made his MLB debut with the franchise in 2013.
He left comfort and familiarity behind for the 850-mile move to St. Louis, but still has the traits that make him an elite baseball player.
Arenado's intense focus on practice and willingness to listen to new coaching perspectives has increased his bond with teammates and eased that adjustment, Shildt said.
"He has moved the needles in our clubhouse with how he does his work in the batting cage and in general," Shildt said. "He fits right in."
Arenado said this week that veteran teammates such as Yadier Molina and Paul Goldschmidt made his Cardinals transition "a lot easier."
"I feel way better," Arenado told reporters Tuesday during a Zoom video conference. "I'm just getting in the groove of the season."
Arenado has at least one hit in each game so far this season. He had at least two hits in three of his six appearances. His longest hit streak last season lasted seven games.
He had a career-best 28-game hitting streak in his second season with the Rockies.
Arenado will play his first home game with his new team when the Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers at 4:15 p.m. EDT Thursday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
"It feels good to be back out here every day," Arenado said. "It will be another adjustment at home at Busch [Stadium].
"It has been great so far. These guys have made it a lot easier. I'm definitely feeling more comfortable."
Arenado was one of several All-Star players to switch teams through a trade or free agency last off-season. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, first baseman Josh Bell and pitchers Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish were among the other top players to switch teams.
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Jared Walsh tags out Toronto Blue Jays pinch runner Jonathan Davis on a pickoff throw during the ninth inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., on Thursday. Photo by Steven J. Nesius/UPI | License Photo