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Rolen says shoulder OK, expects to play entire NLCS

10/11/2006 - MLB Scott Rolen St. Louis Cardinals + more

NEW YORK -- Scott Rolen was on the bench for the St. Louis
Cardinals' first-round clincher. He expects to be in the lineup
throughout the National League Championship Series.

Rolen said Tuesday he did not ask out of the lineup before Game
4 against the San Diego Padres due to fatigue and soreness in his
surgically repaired left shoulder. He said he simply informed Tony
La Russa about his condition after consulting with the team doctor,
and left the decision in the manager's hands.

"I want to be in there for Game 1 through however many we
play," Rolen said after the Cardinals worked out at Shea Stadium.
"I'm ready to go. I feel fine."

A cortisone injection Sunday night, hours after the Cardinals
finished off the Padres, should help one of the team's core players
rejoin the lineup against the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
Rolen was second on the team this season with 95 RBI despite a
steep decline in the final month that he blamed on the shoulder.

La Russa expects Rolen, who was dropped from fourth to fifth in
the order late in the season, to play against left-hander Tom
Glavine. Rolen is a career .358 hitter against Glavine in 53
at-bats with two homers, seven RBI and 14 walks.

"I'd be optimistic that he would be in there," La Russa said.

La Russa seemed perturbed before Game 4 of the division series
that Rolen had not mentioned the shoulder problem until Sunday. At
the same time, he said Rolen's willingness to play hurt was
admirable.

"That's why he didn't come out and say how sore he was, because
you know he wants to play," La Russa said. "Here's a guy that's
not fighting for a job, he's got security, and he just wants to be
a part of it.

"I was never and am not now upset with Scott."

Scott Spiezio started that game at third base, going 1-for-4
with an RBI, and Rolen did not play. Rolen gives the Cardinals,
only 83-78 in the regular season, more reason to feel they can
match up with the Mets -- who won an NL-best 95 games and swept the
Dodgers in the first round.

The Cardinals have been labeled a two-man team -- Albert Pujols
and Chris Carpenter, the reigning NL MVP and Cy Young Award
winners.

Carpenter's first start will be in Game 3, after he helped
clinch the division series. Pujols was hitless the last two games
of the first round after getting five hits and driving in the
go-ahead run the first two.

"I don't think two guys can carry the whole team," Pujols
said. "I think there's a lot of fingers that you can point to
different guys that get big hits for us, and who help us out where
we are right now."

St. Louis enters the second round of the playoffs without a
clear Game 4 starter. The Cardinals likely will go with 24-year-old
rookie Anthony Reyes, who was left off the roster in the first
round, over wildly inconsistent Jason Marquis, who finished the
season with a 6.02 ERA.

Reclamation project Jeff Weaver, 8-14 with a 5.76 ERA for the
Cardinals and Angels, who gave up on him in July, gets the call in
Game 1. Weaver threw five scoreless innings in Game 2 of the first
round.

"When you come to a team that's built to win and you have that
opportunity to help that team succeed and get to the postseason,
all of those things are motivation to get back to the guy that you
know you are," Weaver said. "Maybe this is what was supposed to
happen to get me to this point and enable me to get back to the
postseason."

Rolen was 1-for-11 in the first round, the lone hit coming on a
bloop double in the opener. He was hitless in four at-bats Saturday
with two strikeouts. But he was among the league leaders in batting
average much of the year, going into the All-Star break at .333 and
finishing at .296 with 22 homers.

In September, he batted .225 with three homers and 14 RBI, with
two of the homers and nine of the RBI coming in a two-game burst
in the middle of the month.

"I don't think there's any question my September wasn't
remarkable by any means," Rolen said. "I struggled through
September a little bit, whether I was fatigued or whatever the
situation was."

Now, he says those issues have been removed.

"I'm going to come in tomorrow and look at the lineup," Rolen
said, "and hope I'm in there."