10/09/2002 6:16 pm ET
Cards put Rolen on NLCS roster
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The higher Scott Rolen was able to raise his left arm, the better his chances got of making the Cardinals' National League Championship Series roster. By Tuesday evening, he was able to get that arm up over his head and say, "Put me in, skip!"
As a result, Rolen is on the roster despite a moderate shoulder sprain, suffered last Thursday in the NL Division Series against Arizona.
Rolen is still out for Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis, but the possibility that he could play later in the series led the team to include him on the 25-man roster. The move was a departure from the team's public statements over the past week. The Cardinals had been pessimistic that Rolen would be able to play in the series.
Neither Rolen nor the team is yet willing to target a date for his return to the lineup.
"It's a tough read still," Rolen said. "I'm progressing every day. First two days, first three days, I couldn't lift my shoulder. And right now, I have almost full range of movement in my shoulder. There's still pain in some spots and I still have a little bite in some areas, but we still have some time. And if I can progress daily like I have up to this point, I'm very optimistic I can get back in the lineup and hopefully contribute."
Wednesday marked the first time since the injury that Rolen got out of the training room to attempt some baseball activities, though they were limited. He is still unable to swing a bat.
"Today was really the first day I went out and ran a little bit and did some things like that," he said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "I just got back from the (batting) cage. I wasn't hitting or anything. I was just trying to see some pitches. Just kind of (standing) in the box. (Coach) Dave McKay was throwing and I had a bat in my hand. Just tried to see some pitches. I didn't swing at anything. I didn't bunt anything."
Manager Tony La Russa said that the decision to keep Rolen active was made more or less at the 11th hour. He had been preparing to play the NLCS without the All-Star, whom St. Louis acquired from Philadelphia on July 29.
"As late as Saturday, Sunday, I was telling Wilson Delgado to get ready," La Russa said, referring to the player that would have taken Rolen's place on the roster. "But there's a couple, three things that happened.
"The fact that he was improving (a great deal) got us optimistic that over a seven-game series there's a chance he would be ready. More importantly, Dr. (George) Paletta (the Cardinals' head physician) assured us it's the kind of injury that you deal with the pain, but you don't run the risk of it becoming something permament or chronic or injuring it worse than it is."
Miguel Cairo started at third base on Wednesday night and will probably get most of the at-bats at third base in Rolen's place. Albert Pujols could also see some time there with Eli Marrero playing left field.
While Rolen is unavailable, the Cardinals will be limited to a four-man bench, because they are carrying 12 pitchers and 13 position players in the postseason.
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.