DETROIT (AP) – Forget the numbers, Scott Rolen says. His shoulder is OK, his swing feels fine and sooner or later some hits will fall in.

Batting .188 in the postseason without an RBI, the St. Louis Cardinals’ All-Star third baseman heads into his second World Series certainly hoping it goes better than the first.

That was two years ago, when St. Louis was swept by the Boston Red Sox while Rolen went 0-for-15.

This October, Rolen has been in the middle of everything for the Cardinals, including an apparent spat with manager Tony La Russa and a wild win in Game 7 of the NL championship series.

“I felt like I swung the bat pretty well the whole series,” Rolen said Friday. “I didn’t feel that I was a zero.”

No, he went 5-for-21 (.238) with a double against the New York Mets, but again failed to drive in a run. So one big question in the World Series will be whether Rolen’s sore left shoulder will prevent him from getting around on all those 98 mph fastballs he can expect to see from Detroit’s power pitchers.

La Russa benched a disgruntled Rolen in Game 2 against the Mets because of a lack of production combined with the manager’s doubts about Rolen’s sore left shoulder. La Russa said Rolen’s stroke just didn’t look right.

But Rolen got back in the lineup the next night and made some key contributions during the series – even if his numbers didn’t look very good.

He was robbed of a two-run homer in Game 7 when Endy Chavez came up with an incredible catch. Moments later, Rolen made a potentially costly throwing error.

, though he was off the hook when Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan escaped a bases-loaded jam.

“A little tumultuous inning there for No. 27,” Rolen said Thursday night.

Three innings later, though, he got the winning rally started with a single and scored on Yadier Molina’s tiebreaking homer in a 3-1 victory.

Now, Rolen will be looking for his first World Series hit – again. And he’s determined not to put added pressure on himself just because of the previous failure.

“I don’t think that’s a healthy approach,” he said.

As for Rolen’s relationship with La Russa, neither would say much about it. The scuttlebutt was that they were not on speaking terms during the NLCS.

“That’s not a subject that’s important to get into,” La Russa said.

Rolen was mum, too: “I’m not going to talk about any of that.”

Their silence spoke volumes.

For his part, La Russa said he’s encouraged by the way Rolen has been swinging the bat and playing defense lately.

And La Russa figures a healthy Rolen makes the Cardinals much tougher to beat.

“He’s an important part of our core,” La Russa said. “When he’s right, he’s a great player. The closer he is to that, the better chance we have to win.

“Just got to get him in a groove.”


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