ST. LOUIS (AP) – Scott Rolen will have surgery on his left shoulder, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals without their All-Star third baseman for the rest of the season.

Rolen, 30, has a torn labrum and was told he will need at least six months to rehabilitate it after surgery. He is expected to return by or during spring training. Had he waited on surgery, he could have missed considerable time in 2006.

“I didn’t really have a decision,” Rolen said after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to San Francisco. “I know my body. I know my shoulder.

“This was the only choice right now.”

Cardinals team medical consultant Dr. George Paletta will perform the surgery with assistance from Cincinnati Reds medical supervisor Dr. Timothy Kremchek. A date has not been set, but the surgery is expected to take place this week in St. Louis.

Manager Tony La Russa said the decision was inevitable after Rolen’s shoulder continued to show no improvement more than three months after surgery.

“That’s a really tough break for him, a tough break for us,” La Russa said.

Rolen missed 67 games this season in two stints on the disabled list after a May 10 collision with Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Hee-Seop Choi. He had surgery three days later, but the shoulder did not get better.

Coming off four straight 100-RBI seasons, Rolen was hitting .235 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 56 games.

That was a far cry from 2004, when Rolen hit .314 with 34 homers and 124 RBIs. He has also won six Gold Gloves.

Rolen initially was out a little more than a month after colliding with Choi while running out a grounder. He returned June 18 but struggled noticeably in 26 games, at times screaming in pain when he swung. In 87 at-bats during his return, he hit .205 with no homers and eight RBIs.

Rolen was still voted to the All-Star game but skipped it to rest his shoulder.

Rolen came to the Cardinals from Philadelphia in a midseason trade in 2002, hitting 14 homers in 55 games in helping lead St. Louis to the playoffs. But he was forced out of Game 2 of a first-round series against Arizona when pinch-runner Alex Cintron collided with him, injuring Rolen’s left shoulder.

Rolen missed the rest of that series and the NL championship series against San Francisco.

Last season, Rolen hit .310 in the NLCS and drove in the go-ahead run with a homer off Houston’s Roger Clemens in Game 7. But he was 0-for-15 in the Cardinals’ four-game loss to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

On Thursday, Rolen told the media of his choices: Wait and see if the shoulder improves enough for him to play, or have surgery and be ready to return early next season.

The Cardinals (78-46) have the majors’ best record. Utility man Abraham Nunez, who has most often subbed at third base, is hitting .302.

Rolen met with Kremchek last week to get a second opinion on the injury. Rolen said Kremchek told him surgery was unavoidable, even if he sat out the rest of the season and then rehabbed for several months.

Rolen said he expects to be back at full strength by spring training. Watching the team go to the playoffs without him is tough, he said, but he said he won’t feel left out.

“I’m going to be part of it. I’m not going to be playing but I’m going to be part of it,” he said.

AP-ES-08-21-05 1858EDT


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