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10/05/05 6:47 PM ET

As a reserve, have to stay sharp

Cardinals rookie Rodriguez shares thoughts on off-day

Rookie outfielder John Rodriguez wasn't even in the Cardinals organization until midseason, and even after a trade to St. Louis he wasn't on the 40-man roster. Yet an amazing month at Triple-A Memphis, combined with injuries on St. Louis' big league squad, led to an opportunity for Rodriguez to play in the Majors for the first time. Rodriguez will be checking in with MLB.com throughout the playoffs to share his experiences with readers in his first taste of the Major League playoffs.

In the third edition, Rodriguez talks about his routine and trying to stay sharp as the Cardinals are off for the second time in three days.

It's Day 3 of the playoffs, and going into batting practice, I'm trying to make sure I work on the little things. I'm making sure not to forget that even though I haven't seen live pitching in a while, it shouldn't change in my head. I need to always stay confident and focused. I can't have it in my head, "You haven't seen live pitching in a while."

I just try to convince myself every day, I try to convince my body that I've been playing every day. I always watch film. I try to stay as knowledgeable on the other pitchers as I can. I go in there, work out, run on the treadmill, run on the field, make sure I do my shags and make sure I stay sharp in the outfield. Anything can happen.

After that, I just have to make sure everything stays right. I can't lose an edge at all. Especially with these games. I'm going to be ready every time I'm called upon. I'm going to be ready.

It helps that I pinch-hit down the stretch. Especially with John Mabry, he's taught me a lot about pinch-hitting -- different situations, times in games where I might have to warm up starting in the fourth inning instead of the sixth or the seventh. I just have to pay attention all the time to the game. I can't be talking and not paying attention to the game. Definitely the last month I was pinch-hitting a lot, so it sure does help.

Tony La Russa is telling us, don't take anybody for granted. Just go out there and play like it's Game 7 every day. You don't want to give anybody any confidence out there. We could be up in a series two games to none, and you could lose a little bit and roll over and say it's just one game, but we don't want to do that. We want to go in and win every game. So he's letting us know, we have to stay focused and not take anybody for granted.

John Rodriguez's diary appears as told to MLB.com reporter Matthew Leach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.