10/01/2002 7:20 pm ET
MLBeat: Williams out for NLDS
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- In the words of the late Gilda Radner, "it's always something."
The latest obstacle in the path of the 2002 Cardinals is a doozy, though: right-hander Woody Williams is not on St. Louis' 25-man roster for the National League Division Series. Williams threw briefly off a mound on Monday and it didn't go well, so the team elected not to activate him for the best-of-five series against Arizona.
Williams is suffering from what Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg described as "some localized pain in the lateral aspect of his ribs." It is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the strained left oblique that sidelined him twice this season. He has not pitched since Sept. 20, when he started the Cardinals' division-clinching win over Houston. Williams was removed from the game after 4 2/3 innings.
"When it first happened, we got him out right away, as opposed to the time before when he pitched a little bit more. We thought that we would catch a break and he would heal. He was supposed to have a serious throw [Monday]. Made about a dozen throws. It was obvious there was no way he could get ready by Saturday, so we didn't want to take a chance."
During the regular season, Williams went 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 17 starts. He allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his starts. He picked up the win in Game 2 of last year's Division Series between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks, allowing just one run in seven innings and outdueling Randy Johnson.
Andy Benes will start Game 3 against the Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium on Saturday -- assuming he's healthy, which isn't yet a given. Benes is experiencing some lower back pain, which forced him to leave start against Milwaukee on Sunday after only five innings.
If Benes can't go, the likely starter will be right-hander Jason Simontacchi, who finished second on the Cardinals in wins and innings pitched in 2002.
Williams' absence paved the way for the inclusion of Garrett Stephenson on the roster. Stephenson missed most of the season with back and hamstring injuries, but defeated the Diamondbacks' Curt Schilling on Wednesday at Busch Stadium.
In addition to Williams, right-handers Gabe Molina and Jamey Wright were left off the NLDS roster, while righty Luther Hackman was included.
Benes confident: Benes has little doubt that he will be ready to pitch in front of the home crowd at Busch on Saturday. His manager is somewhat less sure, however.
"I just had some stiffness in my lower back," Benes said, "but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I had problems with my [right] knee. I tend to favor it so my pelvis gets out of line. Typically I get back in line and the spasms go away and everything's fine."
"Mostly it's just inflammation. From my experience it's been a couple days. Today's day two and I'm feeling a lot better. I would think by [Wednesday] it would be a lot better than it was today."
Benes expects to throw a bullpen session either Wednesday or Thursday.
Tino's value: The Cardinals have been to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but this marks Tino Martinez's eighth consecutive trip to the postseason. His teammates value that experience.
"Just mentioning things to Tino and how they did it [in New York], it helps out. It takes away the learning curve. Having the veteran guys, they can tell you things before you get in the situation," Matt Morris said.
"As the season got going," said manager Tony La Russa, "you could see him rise to the occasion more and more and more. He's got the benefit of [having] been in this thing, been successful. He's talking all the right things."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Matthew_H_Leach@yahoo.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.