Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Cardinals not optimistic about Rolen's return for NLCS
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS The St. Louis Cardinals are preparing for the NL championship series without Scott Rolen, although they hesitated to make an official decision Monday.
He's got a sprain in several places and it's very painful, manager Tony La Russa said before the team worked out. It's a lot to expect that it's not going to be a couple of weeks before he gets ready, and it's a lot to expect a club to play with four bench guys in a National League-type game.
So, we're not too optimistic.
Trainer Barry Weinberg took that another step.
We haven't ruled him out yet, not completely, Weinberg said. Almost.
Rolen, who had 31 home runs, 110 RBIs and batted .266 this season, was optimistic he could perhaps play later in the series because there has been daily improvement. The tradeoff for the Cardinals is he'd be a wasted roster spot probably until at least Game 5, next Monday, or Game 6 next Wednesday.
I haven't written this next series off yet, Rolen said. I don't think Games 1 and 2 are necessarily in the forefront, but later in the series we're days away. I don't know where it's going to go from here, so I guess there's a decision to make in a couple of days. I'm still not washing my hair yet.
Rolen said team doctors haven't determined whether the major problem is in the shoulder joint or with ligaments. If it's the joint, he's got a much better chance of returning.
I feel a lot better and I have better range of motion, Rolen said. I'm not swinging a bat or anything, but I can wave to people today and I couldn't do that before. Hopefully I can get to a point where we can put a time frame on it.
The Cardinals will play the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS opener Wednesday.
Rolen sprained his left shoulder Thursday in Game 2 of the division series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Weinberg said Rolen has improved and was able to give him a high-five Monday.
So, that's improvement, Weinberg said. But judging right now, we're not very optimistic about him playing. We'll get him treated and see how he is tomorrow.
Weinberg said it's difficult to say how long it will take Rolen to recover.
It's not a traditional injury, Weinberg said. Instead of asking the recovery time, you kind of, at the end, say this is how long it took. Each day you see how he progresses.
Normal things have to become normal first, and then baseball stuff has to become normal.
The Cardinals would use either Miguel Cairo or Albert Pujols at third base if Rolen can't play. Cairo was 4-for-4 against Arizona and had the game-winning hit in Game 2 and two RBIs in Game 3 as the Cardinals swept the series.
Pujols split time between third base and left field before Rolen was acquired from Philadelphia in July. Since then, Pujols has spent most of his time in the outfield and La Russa put him there in Game 3 of the first-round sweep of the Diamondbacks to allow him to better concentrate on hitting.
I don't think it's a big difference, La Russa said. I remember games when both he and Cairo started, and Cairo played left field and Albert played third base.
If Pujols plays third base, the Cardinals could use Eli Marrero, who had 18 homers and 66 RBIs, in the outfield.
I lean toward looking at all the alternatives and doing what gives us our best chance, La Russa said.
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