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Cards reshuffle

Strained oblique muscle keeps Williams off playoff roster

Posted: Tuesday October 01, 2002 3:56 PM
Updated: Tuesday October 01, 2002 10:01 PM

PHOENIX (AP) -- Right-hander Woody Williams, bothered by a sore muscle in his left side, was left off the St. Louis Cardinals' roster for their playoff series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Williams tentatively was scheduled to start Game 3 Saturday in St. Louis, but he experienced soreness after throwing just a dozen pitches in a workout at Bank One Ballpark on Monday.

Manager Tony La Russa said Andy Benes (5-4) would start Game 3. Benes, who returned from near-retirement to pitch well in the final three months of the season, experienced stiffness in his lower back after five innings of work against Milwaukee on Sunday. But he said he would be ready to go.

"A lot of crazy things happened for me to get here, but here I am," Benes said.

Williams, who has a strained left oblique muscle, said he felt good throwing on flat ground Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"There was nothing but optimism in my mind. Going in I had a good attitude," he said. "But as soon as I got up on the mound, it just wasn't meant to be."

Right-hander Garrett Stephenson (2-5) replaced Williams on the 25-man roster.

Benes said his back problem is related to the trouble he has had with his arthritic right knee.

"I tend to favor it so my pelvis gets out of line," he said. "Typically I get back in line and the spasms go away and everything is fine."

Benes was the opening-day starter for the Diamondbacks in their expansion season of 1998, but he returned to the Cardinals as a free agent following the 1999 season. The last time he was at Bank One Ballpark, on April 15, he gave up 10 runs in three innings in a 14-5 loss. The next day, he went on the 60-day DL and went home to contemplate retirement.

He got a call from the Cardinals in July, returned to the team and has gone 5-2 in 14 starts with a 1.86 ERA.

"I've got peace of mind, I'm relaxed. I get to pitch at home," Benes said. "I was at home four months ago, so it can't get any better than that. I get to pitch at home, and before I was home on the couch."

Williams, 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA, hasn't pitched since Sept. 20 because of the injury. He said he might be ready for the NLCS if the Cardinals get there.

"I'm hoping," he said, "but as of right now it's hard to say."

 
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