ST. LOUIS (AP) -- David Freese's drunk driving arrest in December has not dislodged him as the top contender for the St. Louis Cardinals' third base job.
But Freese, 26, knows he has to grow up and earn the team's trust. During the team's Winter Warm-Up last weekend, Freese said he hadn't taken a drink since his DUI arrest for a blood alcohol content of .232 -- nearly three times the legal limit.
"It's an embarrassing and humiliating experience for me, my family and the organization," Freese said. "They obviously have high demands on you as a person on and off the field.
"I've just got to learn from it, which I have."
Freese said he had a long discussion with general manager John Mozeliak not long after the arrest. He has entered a treatment program, although he said he was not an alcoholic, and said he had lost 16 pounds during offseason conditioning.
"As of right now I'm not drinking," Freese said. "The future is going to tell you what the future holds, but I'm just kind of taking it one day at a time."
Freese has previous miss-steps; the arrest report from December listed him as a prior offender. At first, he worried the Cardinals might release him.
"Obviously, right out of the gate that's the first thing you think about, your career," Freese said. "They're making sure and I'm making sure I'm taking the necessary steps."
The gravity of the situation hit him after the December arrest.
"A lot of kids would dream to be in the position I'm in," Freese said. "I've taken full responsibility for my actions and I'm really pumped and really excited where I'm at."
Freese said manager Tony La Russa told him "I can be a big part of this team."
The Cardinals acquired Freese from the Padres in a deal for Jim Edmonds after the 2007 season and he made the opening-day roster last season before being sidelined by injuries. Third base is open after the departures of free agents Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene, although competition could come from Joe Mather and Tyler Greene.
Freese batted .300 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs at Triple-A Memphis last year and played in 17 games with St. Louis, batting .323 with one homer and seven RBIs.
Mozeliak said Freese will get "every opportunity" to make the team. Teammates have pledged their help in keeping Freese focused.
Second baseman Skip Schumaker was this year's recipient of the Darryl Kile award for clubhouse leadership, in voting by players. Schumaker is optimistic after several recent chats, but said Freese needs to earn his keep.
"He's going to have an opportunity to show he's dependable for us," Schumaker said. "Would I love to see him at third? Absolutely. I think he can do it."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)