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Cardinals’ David Freese happy to be back on the big stage

Each time St. Louis advanced, David Freese was able to take a deep breath.

He’s only two years removed from hitting .348 with a homer, three doubles, a triple, and seven RBIs in the Cardinals’ World Series 2011 World Series win over the Rangers.

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Now that he’s back, he has a different perspective.

“I definitely sat back, win or loss, and understood how special these moments are,” Freese said Tuesday at Fenway Park. “2011 was truly, obviously a special deal, but I think a lot of us had no idea what was going on.”

In a way, Freese said he could relate to one of the cornerstones of the Red Sox team standing in the Cardinals’ way of a third championship in eight years.

When Dustin Pedroia won the World Series in 2007, he was just a rookie.

“I know Pedroia was even quoted back in ’07 that he saw ’07 as a blur,” Freese said. “And I completely understand where he’s coming from.”

In five years with the Cardinals, Freese has become one of the team’s most popular players. Even though his .262 average this year was the worst of his career, he’s one of the catalysts.

Freese knows that the difference between this Cardinals team and the one that won in 2011 is that when the bats go cold, their pitching won’t.

“Two years ago, running through the World Series, I think offensively, we did what we had to do,” Freese said. “Our pitching has helped us out this year.

“What we’re doing on the mound is absolutely something that’s special. The young guys we have, I get on the bus and we’ve got a bunch of 22-year-olds, unfazed, that run around and chuck the baseball. That’s what’s gotten us here.”

Freese has dealt with calf tightness this postseason — it forced him to leave Game 4 of the NLCS — but he said it won’t hinder him.

“I feel good,” he said. “The calf had its moments and you fight through it. But you know, you face Pittsburgh, you face LA, those guys are gunning at you. Now you’re facing Boston. Those pitchers are just as good. So you’ve just got to battle, and it’s amazing how each postseason can differ.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.
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