Notes: Rolen out of Cardinals' lineup
Spiezio makes start at third base in Game 2 of NLCS
NEW YORK -- Scott Rolen was bumped from the Cardinals' lineup on Friday night, with Scott Spiezio taking his place as the starting third baseman for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series at Shea Stadium. Spiezio batted fifth for the visiting Cards.
Rolen has struggled in the 2006 postseason, going 1-for-14 in four games. He was scratched from Game 4 of the NL Division Series in favor of Spiezio after admitting to significant discomfort and fatigue in his surgically repaired left shoulder. Rolen returned to action for Game 1 on Thursday against the Mets after receiving a cortisone shot four days earlier, but he went 0-for-3 against New York.
The decision on Friday was a baseball decision, not a medical one.
"He says he feels fine to play," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's been cleared by the medical staff, so I just watch the baseball side. And I just believe that if you know Scott's stroke, and you see some of the swings he took [on Thursday], you know there's something preventing him from being right."
The decision surprised and frustrated Rolen, who had hoped and expected to play.
"It caught me off guard that I wasn't in the lineup," he said.
La Russa did not count out the possibility that Rolen could be back in the lineup as early as Game 3, when Steve Trachsel will start for New York at Busch Stadium.
Rolen turned in a strong first five months of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. In September, however, his numbers dipped drastically as discomfort set in. He played through it, finally acknowledging in the NLDS that the condition was affecting his hitting.
Spiezio, signed by the Cards after Spring Training started, has been a godsend as a fill-in at third base and in the outfield this season. He hit .272 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .496 slugging percentage in 119 games, launching 13 home runs and driving in 52. Spiezio had a key RBI single in the Cards' sixth-inning rally in the clinching game against San Diego.
St. Louis made one other switch in its lineup from Game 1 to Game 2, replacing Preston Wilson with Chris Duncan in left field and the No. 2 spot in the order. Wilson started against Tom Glavine, as he typically does against lefties, while Duncan normally starts against right-handers -- such as Mets Game 2 hurler John Maine.
Unpopular comments: Albert Pujols was booed even more vehemently on Friday than he was in Game 1 on Thursday, following comments he made after the opener.
"He wasn't good," Pujols was quoted as saying of Tom Glavine in the New York Daily News. "He wasn't good at all. I think we hit the ball hard, we didn't get some breaks."
Glavine pitched seven innings of four-hit shutout ball in the series opener. La Russa acknowledged Friday that Pujols' comments were out of line, but also defended the slugger's intensity.
"I understand after the heat of the competition a guy who was competing really hard, it's virtually impossible to turn it off and be really professional and understanding and pass out compliments," La Russa said. "The guys that can do that are not competing hard enough."
La Russa is a firm believer in having as much of a cooling-off period for players as possible.
"He's sincere about it," the manager said. "That's what I admire and respect about him. It wasn't a good comment. Give Glavine credit for the job that he did. But that happens."
Walk him? Carlos Beltran's postseason exploits against the Cardinals have been remarkable. In eight League Championship Series games against St. Louis, the switch-hitting center fielder has hit over .400 and cranked five home runs. But as much as the Cards would love to be careful with Beltran, his teammates mostly take away that option.
"You've got [Carlos] Delgado sitting behind him," La Russa said. "It's not that easy. That's part of their strength. And sitting behind Delgado is [David] Wright. Somebody said don't let Delgado beat you. Well, they've got Wright behind him. They've got a really good team.
"When we pitch to Beltran, we give him the respect that he deserves. He's a dangerous hitter. But when you've got Delgado behind him, who's been hotter against us and hotter in the postseason, right now, you've got two evils there."
This date in Cardinals history: On Oct. 13, 1946, the Cardinals evened their World Series with the Red Sox at three games each. Harry Brecheen went the distance in a 4-1 win at Sportsman's Park, allowing seven hits and striking out six.
Coming up: Game 3 of the NLCS comes without a day off, thanks to Wednesday's rainout. The Cardinals and Mets will take the field at Busch Stadium on Saturday. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.