NLCS provides another fresh start for struggling Rolen

Friday, October 15, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- The way things have gone for Scott Rolen the second half of this season, no one could blame him for getting surly.

Instead, theCardinals' top RBI man has dealt with all of his problems, physical and otherwise, with uncommon good humor.

His left knee will likely require offseason surgery for joint irritation. The left calf strain that sidelined him for 16 games in September is still not 100 percent. The 3-for-32 slump has been a result of inactivity.

Still, none of it appears to bother him.

After going 0-for-12 in the division series, Rolen said popping champagne corks was enough for him. On Wednesday, he joked that since the Cardinals had started a fresh series he had only been 0-for-2 when his line-drive RBI single tied the score at 4 in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS.

"Yeah, it was all right getting that hit," Rolen said. "I didn't know we had to go back to the first series and count all of those at-bats."

In similar good humor, Rolen refused to say the slump was over. After all, he struck out in his final at-bat of the Cardinals' 10-7 victory.

"Maybe not, I punched out late," Rolen said. "It could be over, the well done dried up on me. I got my one for the series.

"No, I hope not."

Depite going hitless, Rolen had six walks in the opening series. On Wednesday, he also walked and scored ahead of Jim Edmonds' three-run double that capped a crucial six-run sixth that put the Cardinals ahead 10-4.

"The old walk's as good as a hit thing, that comes from the manager," Rolen said. "I felt a hell of a lot better getting that hit."

Teammates hope the hit will get Rolen rolling. He likely was the NL MVP at the All-Star break with a major league-leading 80 RBIs.

"I think that big hit will get him motivated and in the right direction," left fielder Reggie Sanders said.

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