ST. LOUIS (AP) – St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa found a way to get disgruntled Scott Rolen back in the lineup, but not at the expense of Scott Spiezio.

Both were playing Saturday night for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

Rolen was 1-for-14 in the postseason before being benched on Friday due to a lack of production combined with La Russa’s doubts about Rolen’s sore left shoulder. La Russa said Rolen’s swing did not look right before Game 2.

Spiezio replaced Rolen at third base and the fifth spot in the lineup on Friday. He stayed in the same lineup spot although he was starting in left field – one of five positions he played during the season.

Rolen, a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Game 2, was batting sixth. He made a diving stop to throw out David Wright for the second out in the ninth Friday night.

“I saw him dive and make a play, that’s a healthy indication about what his shoulder is like, that his shoulder was not restricted,” La Russa said. “He’s just got to find his stroke. He’s an outstanding player, and you always give an outstanding player the benefit of the doubt.”

La Russa was not happy with any inference that the lineup was a daily tryout for Rolen, pointing out that Juan Encarnacion and Chris Duncan were not playing. Wilson played right field, Encarnacion’s usual spot, partly because he’s 8-for-20 with three home runs against Mets Game 3 starter Steve Trachsel.

Spiezio made 28 starts in left field in the regular season. He’s more comfortable at first and third, although La Russa notes he gets the job done in the outfield.

“He does it like he does everything else – he competes,” La Russa said. “And if you compete, it’s amazing how well things work out. He’s played at least an average left field for us.”

Plus, he’s been a clutch player in the postseason. In 2002, when he helped the Angels win the World Series, he was 11-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Counting this postseason, he’s 14-for-20 in the playoffs, including his two-run game-tying triple in the seventh and an RBI double in the Cardinals’ three-run ninth in their 9-6 Game 2 victory.


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