08/22/2002 7:10 pm ET
MLBeat: Drew back in lineup
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It could have come a day earlier, but J.D. Drew is back in the Cardinals starting lineup. Drew had sat out back-to-back games against the Pirates before returning to his usual spots of right field and the No. 2 position in the batting order. Manager Tony La Russa said that Drew's balky right knee was good on Wednesday, but he held the outfielder out one extra day.
"He had a good BP (on Wednesday)," La Russa said. "I could have used him. I just didn't write him in (the lineup). A lot of that good (news) came after he took his BP. I didn't want to sit around and wait. Eli (Marrero) deserves playing time. He's done a good job."
Drew's approach at the plate hasn't changed, but recently his results have looked a lot more like those of a typical No. 2 hitter than a slugger. He is without an extra-base hit for the month of August, but he's getting on base and scoring runs. Drew has reached base in every start in August, and he's scored seven runs in his last seven games.
"These guys behind me are doing a great job," Drew said. "I've scored a lot more runs the last three or four ballgames than I have in a long time because of the production of (Jim) Edmonds and (Albert) Pujols."
For the most part, Drew should continue to play about this often for the rest of the year - roughly five times per week. It will often be a day-to-day decision as to which days he gets off, though La Russa said that he will sometimes rest Drew pre-emptively if the Cardinals' next game is one in which he particularly wants Drew available.
Stephenson update: Garrett Stephenson had a successful rehab outing for Triple-A Memphis on Thursday night. Facing Nashville, the right-hander went 4 2/3 shutout innings, giving up four hits and no walks while striking out five. He threw 65 pitches. Stephenson's next rehab appearance is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, with a Saturday target for a return to the Cardinals rotation.
Izzy stays sharp: Jason Isringhausen pitched Wednesday for the first time in six days, but he showed no ill effects from the layoff. He retired the side on five pitches for his 28th save of the season. Isringhausen has been as dominant in August as he was back in April, not allowing a single hit or walk all month.
"He's done a good job of taking serious bullpens on days he didn't pitch," La Russa said. "He's out there really working; he's not just out there fooling around. He was sharp as he could be. He retired the middle of their lineup. That's hard work."
Bits and pieces: The Cardinals took their team picture on Thursday afternoon, but they were minus two players. Stephenson is on a rehab assignment at Memphis, and Chuck Finley left the team briefly to tend to personal matters. ... La Russa passed Bill McKechnie for sole possession of 10th place on the managerial wins list on Wednesday with 1,897. ... Mike DiFelice caught Jason Simontacchi for the second straight time on Thursday night.
Fantasy edge: Marrero is in a wicked slump, going 7-for-his-last-54. So it's no coincidence that he hasn't started at catcher since Aug. 12. Unless Marrero starts hitting again, expect him to see very little time behind the plate, with Mike Matheny and DiFelice getting most of the appearances.
Matthew Leach covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.