Hand injury sends Kline to doctor, not Houston

Saturday, October 16, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals reliever Steve Kline went to Indianapolis to see a hand specialist Friday instead of joining his teammates in Houston for Game 3 of the NLCS.

Manager Tony La Russa said the team was awaiting the results of the exam.

"It's one of those things," La Russa said after the team's workout. "You fear the worst, hope for the best."

Kline aggravated a torn tendon in the index finger of his throwing hand Thursday night in Game 2. La Russa said Kline's finger was sore and swollen after he allowed two straight singles in the sixth inning of the 6-4 victory over the Astros.

The Cardinals lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading into Game 3 today. Without Kline, Ray King is the only left-hander in the bullpen.

"We need Kline," fellow reliever Julian Tavarez said. "He's been one of the keys for us all year long."

Kline was 2-2 with a 1.79 ERA and three saves this season, holding left-handed hitters to a .142 batting average and allowing no earned runs in 33 appearances at home.

But he missed 28 games in the final month with a strained groin and the finger injury. He returned from the 15-day disabled list on Sept. 29, in time for the final five games of the regular season.

"He wasn't quite as good as he's been, but he was effective," La Russa said.

Kline said he had difficulty gripping the ball Thursday night. He was despondent afterward, saying "I'm done," but later adding, "I hope not. Maybe they can shoot it up and get that inflammation out."

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