10/05/2002 7:05 pm ET
MLBeat: Cairo replaces Rolen
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Talk about instant gratification. In the first game after he hit a game-winning single, Miguel Cairo starts at third base for the Cardinals.
Cairo, who has served St. Louis in a utility role this year, fills in for Scott Rolen. Rolen has a sprained left shoulder and is out for the remainder of the Cardinals-Diamondbacks National League Division Series. Manager Tony La Russa had a couple of options, including moving Albert Pujols to third and playing Eli Marrero in left field, but he elected to play Cairo.
"The only choice was who's gonna play third, and that guy would hit in the seven spot," La Russa said. "That keeps everything else a lot like what we've been the rest of the year. I just felt like we needed Albert really concentrating on his at-bats, and it's a lot easier when he's played more left field. I just think that Cairo, for the kind of game we want to play today, fits it better."
Cairo was delighted with the assignment, which he didn't find out about until Saturday afternoon.
"Today when I came here I saw my name in the lineup and I was happy," Cairo said. "Another chance to play. I'm just gonna take it like it's another game that I'm playing during the regular season. Go out there and have fun. That's the way I've been doing all year and that's what I'm gonna try to do today."
In the ninth inning on Thursday in Arizona, Cairo singled home Edgar Renteria for the deciding run in a 2-1 St. Louis victory.
Mac back? La Russa quipped Saturday that he did have one other option at third base.
Former Cardinals and A's first baseman Mark McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, called the skipper and jokingly offered to take the job. McGwire came up through the Oakland system as a third baseman.
"The toughest call was turning down an offer to play third that we received over the phone," La Russa said. "McGwire asked if he could start taking ground balls. You know way back in the '80s he was a third baseman. We actually called the Commissioner's Office and asked if we could get an exception. It was not granted. That would have been tough. To start Mark at third base, that would have been a tough one. That actually took place, that conversation."
No reflection on D-Backs: La Russa emphasized Saturday that the ugly incident in Phoenix earlier in the week, when a local radio DJ called and harassed Flynn Kile, was in no way a reflection of the Arizona organization. He and the Cardinals organization have received apologies from members of the Diamondbacks in the wake of the call to Darryl Kile's widow.
"The important point is that in talking yesterday with (manager) Bob Brenly, Curt (Schilling), several members of the Diamondbacks, in no way does that reflect anything on that terrific organization," La Russa said. "That's just -- I mean, we knew that. It was a different issue, totally separate from the Arizona Diamondbacks."
The station issued an apology on its Web site and the DJ has been suspended for one week.
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.