10/03/2002 9:20 pm ET
Cards will wait and see on Rolen
Third baseman sprains shoulder in basepath collision
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Using common sense and his better judgment, Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg said that announcing the condition of Scott Rolen's sprained left shoulder would have to wait until the third baseman is re-examined Friday.
Using gridiron lingo, Weinberg sounded pessimistic about Rolen's playing status for Saturday's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"In football terms," Weinberg said, "he's doubtful."
Rolen, who provides run production and stellar defense at third base, was injured in an odd collision with Arizona pinch-runner Alex Cintron during the seventh inning of St. Louis' 2-1 victory in Thursday's Game 2. While the Cardinals' triumph gave them a 2-0 series edge, Rolen's questionable availability for the rest of the series -- if not the remainder of the postseason -- will prompt anxiety in Cardinals Nation until it's resolved.
Rolen, who also was hit on his left pinky by a Curt Schilling pitch in the second inning, is scheduled to undergo a CT scan late Thursday or Friday to determine the extent of the shoulder injury.
X-rays taken Thursday were negative.
"I don't think it's probably too smart to say anything too definite," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He's definitely got a sprained shoulder. He's going to get a scan tomorrow. I mean, I'm sitting out there thinking about it. My heart is really warm about the way we're playing and I'm sick to my stomach about Scott ...
"You know, the news is probably not too good ... I do think that his continuing to play for sure in this series is very questionable. We'll hold our fingers crossed until tomorrow. I think there's a chance that he might have played his last game."
Said Rolen, trying to remain hopeful, "It's disappointing, but there's no reason to hang your head or anything."
With Tony Womack on first base, Cintron on second, two outs and St. Louis leading 1-0, Junior Spivey hit a slow roller toward Rolen, who charged the ball. Cintron, displaying similar alacrity, dashed toward third. Cintron, Rolen and the ball arrived at the same point on the infield dirt almost simultaneously. Cintron skipped in front of Rolen as he tried to avoid both his opponent and the ball. But while Cintron succeeded in skirting the ball -- he would have been out had it hit him -- he didn't miss Rolen, knocking over the All-Star.
Cintron was declared out for interfering with Rolen, ending the inning and Arizona's rally attempt. But the Cardinals were dealt a setback as Rolen had to leave the game. His absence was quickly felt as Albert Pujols, who moved from left field to third, misplayed Greg Colbrunn's grounder for an error that opened the eighth inning and helped Arizona briefly pull even with an unearned run.
Rolen said he knew he had to hurry to try to throw out the fleet Spivey.
"Your instincts tell you to go for the ball and if he hits you, that's OK, because he's out anyway," Rolen said.
Cintron, who was breaking on reliever Rick White's 3-2 pitch to Spivey, was following the grounder and didn't see Rolen until he dodged the ball. Arizona third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez explained that by then, Cintron had altered his path to prepare for rounding third.
"I hope [Rolen's] OK," said Cintron, a rookie infielder who appeared in 38 games this year. "I was just trying to keep the ball from hitting me. I was looking at the ball and I jumped and that's when I saw Rolen. I was going on contact."
Nobody faulted Cintron or accused him of malicious intent.
"He made an aggressive play," Rolen said. "That's the way you play the game."
"It's just one of those things where the ball got there at the same time as Cintron," Rodriguez said. "If you wait, you're not being aggressive. Once he makes his cut and picks up the ball, he doesn't see Rolen coming in and there's nothing he can do."
Said Cardinals second baseman Fernando Vina: "Cintron's a young guy that plays hard. Cintron didn't see Scotty and Scotty didn't see him."
La Russa believed that had Cintron and Rolen not collided, Spivey would have been thrown out anyway.
"Scott could make that play," La Russa said of the three-time Gold Glove winner. "This guy is incredible ... Trust me, if [Cintron] wouldn't have interfered, the inning would be over and we would still have a third baseman."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.