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Cardinals keep Rolen on NLCS roster

Posted: Wednesday October 09, 2002 12:17 PM
Updated: Wednesday October 09, 2002 7:20 PM
  Scott Rolen Scott Rolen thinks he might be able to play as soon as Game 3 on Saturday in San Francisco. AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals took a chance with Scott Rolen on Wednesday, adding him to their roster in the hope of using the All-Star third baseman later in the NL Championship Series.

Rolen sprained his left shoulder in a collision with pinch-runner Alex Cintron last week in Game 2 of the Cardinals' sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Division Series.

Rolen, who had 31 home runs and 110 RBIs this season, reported marked improvement on Monday and Tuesday and apparently convinced manager Tony La Russa he would be able to play later in the best-of-seven series.

"Obviously, we wouldn't have done it if we didn't feel there was a chance he'd be available," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "The last couple of days have been a dramatic improvement.

"He may wake up this weekend and be able to play."

La Russa said the team has been assured by doctors that Rolen can't do further damage to the shoulder by returning to action. The manager also said he would have felt terrible if Rolen could play by Saturday but wasn't on the roster.

Jocketty said the main issue with Rolen now is "managing the pain."

Rolen said he couldn't lift his arm the first three days after the injury, but Wednesday he had "almost full range of movement."

"There's still some pain and I still have a little bite, but we still have some time," Rolen said. "I'm very optimistic I can get back in the lineup and hopefully contribute."

Rolen took the first step back Wednesday, fielding some groundballs and standing in the batter's box in an indoor cage to visualize what he'd do when he can swing a bat again. He also did some running, including lateral motion drills.

"I was just trying to see some pitches," he said. "I didn't swing at anything, I didn't bunt anything."

Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg said Rolen now can handle routine chores such as washing his own hair and exchanging high-fives with his left arm.

"Two days ago he was awful, yesterday he was bad and today he's almost bad," Weinberg said.

On Monday, Rolen believed he might be available by Game 5, but now the team thinks he might be able to play sooner, perhaps as soon as Game 3 on Saturday in San Francisco.

"Maybe over the weekend Scott will be available to do something," La Russa said.

The Cardinals played with a 24-man roster in Game 3 of the division series and will do so in the NLCS until Rolen is cleared to play. Weinberg said Rolen was unavailable for Game 1 on Wednesday night.

"I can't predict how he's going to be tomorrow or the next day," Weinberg said. "Hopefully, he'll continue to keep making the progress he's making."

St. Louis also officially added pitcher Woody Williams, who'll start in Game 2 on Thursday night, to the roster. Reliever Luther Hackman was removed from the roster.

Williams, who went 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 17 starts between stints on the disabled list this season, will be pitching for the first time in 20 days. He didn't appear worried about the layoff, noting that he twice returned without rehabilitation starts during the season.

"I'm not overpowering, I'm a guy that tries to hit the corners, so I think that has a lot of effect on my success with not having rehab and missing that much time," Williams said. "Both of those times I was able to come back with fairly good success."

After being on the disabled list from April 5-May 15, Williams allowed one earned run in six innings of a victory over the Cubs. On Aug. 29, his first start in seven weeks, he allowed five runs in four innings in a 7-0 loss to the Reds.

Garrett Stephenson, who replaced Williams on the roster for the division series, again is on the roster. La Russa said he chose Stephenson over Hackman because he might need another starter in case Williams has to be scratched or cut short his start.

"We just thought we should protect ourselves with another starter," La Russa said. "If we didn't have the issue with Woody, we probably would have stayed with Luther."

 
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