La Russa hopes he'll be available this series

Updated: October 17, 2004, 12:00 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Although the index finger on his throwing hand was so stiff Saturday he couldn't bend it, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Steve Kline is still hoping to pitch again this postseason.

Kline aggravated a torn tendon in his left index finger Thursday night in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. An ultrasound exam Friday by a specialist in Indianapolis showed no further damage, so he flew to Houston to rejoin his teammates.

He wasn't available Saturday for Game 3, a 5-2 loss to the Astros, but plans to try throwing Sunday prior to Game 4. St. Louis leads the series 2-1.

"Every time I use it, it flares up," he said Saturday. "We're just trying to keep it under control."

Kline is taking anti-inflammatory pills to try keeping the swelling down. It doesn't have to be completely gone, though, as he pitched Game 2 with the finger a little puffy. He gave up consecutive singles, then left in pain.

The finger was wrapped in a bandage Saturday.

"It's just stiffness," he said. "I have no grip on the ball."

Kline said the swelling began after he pitched the season finale. He was able to tolerate it during the division series.

"(I'm) optimistic that he would be available in this series sometime," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Kline, one of only two lefties on the Cardinals' staff, missed most of the last month of the regular season because of the finger injury and a groin problem. He left in the sixth inning of Game 2.

"Fortunately we've got several right-handers that are good against left-handed hitters," La Russa said. "The Astros are not a real predominant left-handed club. They don't have any -- couple switch-hitters, two pinch-hitters. So it's not the kind of club or series where having two left-handers in the bullpen is a big plus for us."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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