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Womack the spark St. Louis lacked
10/22/2004 9:51 PM ET
BOSTON -- Officially, the Red Sox didn't cut Tony Womack this spring. Per the transaction wire, they traded him to the Cardinals for minor league right-hander Matt Duff. But for practical purposes, Boston decided it had no use for the veteran second baseman, and flipped him for whatever it could get. Womack was a non-roster invitee who simply didn't fit.

While the BoSox clearly have no regrets -- their offense-defense platoon of Mark Bellhorn and Pokey Reese has worked out splendidly -- the Cards are still smiling over the seemingly small pickup. Womack turned in arguably the best season of his career, putting up personal bests in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.349) and slugging percentage (.385) while scoring 91 runs. He was the leadoff man St. Louis had lacked in 2003.

Now Womack is in his second World Series, trying to beat the team that let him go. He's never shy of motivation to start with, so he refuses to let his brief Spring Training experience with the Red Sox color his feelings about this Fall Classic.

"I guess going into camp being a non-roster [invitee], you know you might not make the team," he said. "A lot of things play into that. I'm just grateful that they traded me and gave me a chance to play.

"I just wanted to play. I wasn't disappointed. I don't know what they were thinking or what their mind-set was. I was just grateful that they could trade me somewhere where I could get a chance to play."

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Womack, who underwent Tommy John surgery last fall, was restricted from playing the field with the Red Sox. The Cards began looking at him on defense almost immediately, and he had taken over the second base job by Opening Day.

That's where he's expected to be in Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday, though his availability is somewhat in question. Womack was removed from the penultimate game of the National League Championship Series due to back spasms. It's not a certainty that he'll play.

But knowing the Cards' fondness for players with playoff experience, and knowing Womack's desire to play, it's safe to guess they'll find a way to make it work.

"I just take advantage of the opportunity," he said. "Luckily, I've had the chance to go to the postseason and the World Series, and I just try to play the first inning, the first pitch like it's my last. I don't know, I guess good luck just follows me."

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

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