Cardinals third baseman hitless in first three games
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Scott Rolen has struggled at the plate since returning from a calf injury. (Matt Sayles/AP)
LOS ANGELES -- When Scott Rolen goes 0-for-three-games, it's naturally going to catch some people's eyes.
The Cardinals third baseman enjoyed a career year, setting personal bests in nearly every significant offensive category, and will garner some consideration for National League MVP honors. Yet Rolen was 0-for-10 (with three walks) entering Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Sunday evening.
"I don't feel bad at the plate," Rolen said after Game 3 on Saturday night. "I think maybe my timing is a little bit, what was the word, rusty?"
Rolen missed 2 1/2 weeks with a muscle strain high in his left calf, returning on Sept. 28. Though he's had some highlights since rejoining the lineup -- notably a mammoth home run off Roger Clemens in Houston -- he hasn't had much success at the plate. He went 3-for-18 in regular-season games after the injury.
"There are no excuses," he said. "I don't have any excuses for anything. If you guys want to make them for me, I'd appreciate it, but I can't make one for myself. You have to get your timing back. I don't feel bad at the plate. I feel like I'm taking decent swings, I just have to be more selective at the plate maybe and get better pitches to hit."
Manager Tony La Russa remains confident about his cleanup hitter.
"I think a lot of us that were watching him that know him keep saying 'close,'" La Russa said. "I think he's really close."
Carp out for NLCS: From the "not-really-news" department, La Russa conceded on Sunday that Chris Carpenter will miss the NL Championship Series should the Cardinals make it that far. Carpenter hasn't pitched since Sept. 18 due to a strained biceps and nerve irritation in his right arm.
The right-hander was left off the Cards' Division Series roster, and that almost certainly would be the case again for the NLCS.
"I don't think he'll pitch the next round," La Russa said.
Woody goes home: In anticipation of a potential Game 5 at Busch Stadium, Woody Williams headed back to St. Louis on Sunday. Williams would be the starter in that game, though it's uncertain whether he would pitch Game 1 of the NLCS if there is no Game 5 in the Division Series.
Woody Williams / P
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"We're talking about that," pitching coach Dave Duncan said on Sunday afternoon. "More than likely if we do not play tomorrow, more than likely Woody would be the No. 1 guy. But we haven't decided that for sure.
"I think what you look at is, the guy that starts the first game pitches Game 5 and the guy that starts the third game pitches Game 7. So which is more important? And if you project out that the series is gonna be a long series and there is gonna be a Game 7, then you have to determine which pitcher you want on the mound for Game 7."
One potential concern about Williams is familiarity. He would be facing the Dodgers for the fourth time in six weeks. The last time he faced a team that often, the Reds seemed to figure him out, roughing him up four times in a row after Williams had two successful outings against them.
"I think that probably it can benefit both the pitcher and the hitter," Duncan said. "Really, when that happens, it really depends on whether or not the pitcher is executing pitches. He's probably gonna get away with fewer mistakes because of the familiarity. But if he's making his pitches, it's as much of an advantage to him as it is to the hitter."
Edmonds sore: Jim Edmonds fouled a ball off of his right leg on Saturday night and was considered somewhat questionable for Game 4 until he arrived at Dodger Stadium. However, the center fielder was pronounced ready to go, and placed in the batting order in the No. 6 spot, his usual position against left-handed starters.
"He fouled that ball off, took a real hard shot, a lot like Rolen," La Russa said. "He played on, but he lost some feeling. At the end of the game he had some swelling. When he got to the ballpark, I had not written him in the lineup. I had two lineups."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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