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La Russa wrestles with DH decision
10/22/2004 7:49 PM ET
BOSTON -- Adding another hitter to a lineup that scored a National League-leading 855 runs might seem like overkill, but St. Louis manager Tony La Russa knows his selection for designated hitter could have an impact in the first two World Series games at Fenway Park.

La Russa said Friday he hasn't picked his DH for Game 1 yet, and judging from how La Russa has approached the decision in the past, the Cards' skipper could go any number of ways.

"I was starting to mess around on the plane with the lineups, and I really don't know for sure who the DH is yet," La Russa said. "I've got a suspicion that I might use a right-hand hitter, so you figure out which one of our right-handers might get in there, but even that's not for sure."

Boston will start right-hander Tim Wakefield, a knuckleballer, so the usual lefty-righty considerations aren't the only factors. With a knuckler facing his team, La Russa could decide to use a base-stealing threat like Roger Cedeno at DH.

Conditions are expected to be dank and cold, with the possibility of a light rain. La Russa could cast an eye toward the elements and decide to put Reggie Sanders in the DH role and use someone like So Taguchi to start in left field in place of Sanders. Both are right-handed hitters.

La Russa used Sanders at DH in an Interleague series at Kansas City back in June, and he put Albert Pujols as designated hitter at Oakland this summer when Pujols was recovering from a tendon injury. John Mabry, a left-handed hitter, took Pujols' spot at first base in that series.

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Odds are La Russa will keep his core of key starters at their usual positions. Which still leaves the question as to who will be the DH in Game 1?

The right-handed options are Hector Luna, Taguchi and Yadier Molina, although Molina, a backup catcher, almost certainly won't be used as DH. Cedeno is a switch-hitter. Mabry and Marlon Anderson are the lefty DH options.

"Some guys make it work like it's no problem, but it's not normal, it's not easy," La Russa said.

Cardinals designated hitters batted .154 (4-for-26) with no extra base hits or RBIs this season, a number that could convince La Russa to try an unconventional approach like letting his starting pitcher hit.

Hey, why not?

Game 1 starter Woody Williams is one of the best hitting pitchers in the game, with a career .213 average, although he hit only .180 in 61 at-bats this season. Williams did contribute a key double in Game 1 of the National League Championship series against Houston.

"You know, he's not going to swing the bat and that's the right-handed DH I'm talking about," La Russa said. "I might just let Woody hit."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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