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Months-long issues between Rolen, La Russa continue

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa is saying great things about
Scott Rolen this winter. The St. Louis Cardinals manager just isn't
saying them to his star third baseman.

Caught up in a feud during the Cardinals' run to the World
Series, the two strong-willed personalities have been silent around
each other since winning the championship.

"We haven't talked, we haven't spoken," Rolen said. "I went
home and we went about our lives. I don't think there's a
conversation that's going to take place."

Rolen was absent from a fans' dinner in St. Louis this week
because of a conflict. La Russa accepted an award in the All-Star's place.

"I love Scott Rolen," La Russa said.

When a glove autographed by Rolen was auctioned, La Russa began
the bidding at $1,000.

Their problems started in the stretch when Rolen ignored advice
from La Russa and the team's medical staff. Rolen insisted on
playing despite being hampered by soreness in his surgically
repaired left shoulder, and he slumped in September.

Rolen began the playoffs in a 1-for-15 rut, prompting La Russa
to bench the Gold Glover in two games.

"I learned from that experience that I'm a pretty stubborn,
hardheaded guy," Rolen said. "I thought, I'll try to remember
that on Sept. 4 instead of October."

Rolen bounced back in the World Series, leading the Cardinals
with a .421 average, 14 total bases and five runs scored as they
beat Detroit in five games.

"When he's healthy, he's proven that if he can play enough
years he will join the great Cardinals in the Hall of Fame," La
Russa said. "We're really hoping he has that kind of season and
career for us."

A month away from the start of spring training, Rolen said he's feeling fine.

"I'm a different guy sitting here today than last offseason
when I was hopeful and optimistic," Rolen said. "I'm doing
everything I've done in the past. I'm totally free from any
limitations."