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Ailing Rolen left out of Cardinals lineup
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published October 14, 2006
NEW YORK - Watching Scott Rolen's 0-for-3 performance in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa could tell something was wrong with his starting third baseman.
Rolen, who has played through pain in his surgically repaired left shoulder during the final month of the season and playoffs, had been cleared by the team's medical staff.
But La Russa followed his intuition, sitting Rolen - and his 22 homers and 95 RBIs in the regular season - for Friday's Game 2.
"It's not an enjoyable decision," La Russa said. "I watched him yesterday (Thursday). Just to me, something is prohibiting his stroke from being right, and I don't think this is something that would be good for him or good for us."
Rolen is batting .071 (1-for-14) in four postseason starts. He sat out Game 4 of the NL Division Series against San Diego.
The decision was for Game 2 only, La Russa said, though Rolen might be able to pinch hit.
"That doesn't mean anything for tomorrow," La Russa said. "That's just it for today and one game at a time."
Before the NLCS began, Rolen said he felt healthy enough to play and contribute, emphasizing he would tell La Russa if he thought the injury would hurt the team.
"He always believes if he competes and fights during the game, someway, somehow he'll do something to help us win," La Russa said. "I think that's an important part of why he keeps clearing himself to play because he feels he can win the game with his glove. He knows he's one of our key guys and he should be in there."
Rolen's absence gave Scott Spiezio his fifth postseason start. Spiezio, who batted fifth Friday, hit .327 (18-for-55) with three homers and 19 RBIs playing for the Angels in their title run in 2002.
"It's always good to have some experience," Spiezio said. "The main thing I learned is not to put any added pressure on yourself."
FLOYD SITS, TOO: Mets leftfielder Cliff Floyd sat out after reaggravating a left Achilles' tendon injury during his first at-bat Thursday. Endy Chavez, who replaced Floyd in the third inning of Game 1, started Friday and batted eighth.
Floyd had an ultrasound Friday that found no further damage to the tendon, Mets manager Willie Randolph said. Randolph said he hoped to have Floyd available for pinch-hitting duties.
Although Floyd limped off the field in obvious pain Thursday, Randolph said Floyd might be able to play the field this series.
"Just a matter of how comfortable he feels moving around on the leg," Randolph said.
MISCELLANY: The road team had won 22 of the past 36 Game 2s in the NLCS. ... With a 2-for-4 night in Game 1, Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was hitting .533 (8-for-15) in his first postseason. ... The Cardinals bullpen has pitched 152/3 straight scoreless innings, including 21/3 in Game 1, holding teams to a .196 batting average (11-for-56) over that span. ... Daily Show host Jon Stewart threw out the first pitch Friday.