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Notes: Kline left off Series roster10/23/2004 8:28 PM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Steve Kline wasn't pleased that he was left off the Cardinals' active roster for the World Series, but he understands the decision. He was "dumbfounded" by how he found out, however.
Kline said Saturday that he learned he had been deactivated by watching ESPN. The Cardinals elected not to take a chance with his sore left index finger, replacing the left-handed reliever with right-hander Al Reyes. Kline, who has a 70 percent tear of the flexor tendon in his finger, has been limited to three appearances this postseason due to the injury.
"I saw it on TV today," he said as the Cards stretched before Game 1 of the World Series. "(ESPN analyst) John Kruk said, 'the loss of Kline is going to be bad.' And I said, 'What ... is that?' I looked at my wife and I said, 'The loss?'
"As soon as I got off the bus, (general manager) Walt Jocketty said, 'Steve, we made a roster move, we took you off and put Al Reyes on.' I said, 'I already know.' Tony (La Russa, Cardinals manager) just shook my hand about 40 minutes later. I know where I ... fit."
Kline and Ray King formed what may have been the best left-handed combo in baseball this year, with Kline racking up a 1.79 ERA in 67 appearances. He missed much of the last month of the season due to a groin injury, and it was while he was out that the tendon condition flared up.
He will undergo surgery on the finger as soon as it is feasible, though he doesn't know yet how long he will be sidelined. Depending on what procedure is necessary, he could be able to throw in six weeks, or it could be a delay of four months.
A free agent after the season, Kline acknowledged the possibility that he may have already pitched his last game in a Cardinals uniform.
"It could be," he said. "I'm guessing. That's the way I approach it. I'm guessing it's my last game as a Cardinal. That's the way the free agency goes and the way teams are, you never know if you're coming back. That's the way it is."
It's Al: The choice to leave Kline off the roster wasn't unexpected. Reyes' inclusion, on the other hand, was a bit surprising. The right-hander made 12 appearances for the Cards after a late-season callup. In addition, using Reyes rather than Randy Flores leaves King as the only southpaw in the bullpen against a team with a number of dangerous left-handed regulars and bench players.
"Randy Flores and Al were the two guys that we were keeping in shape," La Russa said. "We really did not consider Rick (Ankiel). We wanted Rick to settle down and he's going to pitch winter ball. Maybe (against) a different club we'd have given a closer rook at Randy. There's not much of a left-hand presence with the Red Sox.
"Al Reyes, we signed him, and he was at Triple-A and led the league in saves. So when we were looking for help, and we trust our guys there, they recommended him and he came up and did a very good job for us. So by a margin, a thin margin, we thought he was a better choice than Randy."
"He was cleared to throw 50 to 60 pitches including 30 warmups," La Russa said. "And I really think that even though there's a question of how effective he would be, (pitching coach Dave Duncan) and I both came down on the side that we could never forgive ourselves to send him out there (and have him re-injure himself).
"He's been inadequately prepared physically. You're pitching for the biggest prize there is in baseball and he's going to rear back because he's a great competitor, and if something bad was to happen, I think we would both walk away from the game. It just wasn't a fair, safe risk to take and we need him to lead our staff next year."
"I know So has been real good in the clutch," La Russa said. "We all know that playing in the World Series, he's been experienced from his play in Japan. You could see it, whether he's pinch-hit or played late, he was never in awe of a tight situation in the big leagues. I may play him tomorrow, but I think ... Reggie will probably be back there tomorrow. I think it's a good move. We'll see."
Womack is batting seventh due to a sore back. He was removed from a game in the NL Championship Series with back spasms, and in case he needs to be pulled again, the Cards don't want to have to put rookie Hector Luna in the No. 1 spot.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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