- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

ST. LOUIS Scott Rolen stood along the first-base line at Busch Stadium last night and was introduced with his St. Louis Cardinals teammates as members of the National League Championship Series roster.

Whether Rolen will actually stand in the batter's box against the San Francisco Giants during this series is anyone's guess.

Just hours before the start of Game 1, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa announced he was leaving his injured third baseman on his active roster, even though Rolen's sprained left shoulder might prevent him from playing in the series at all.

Rolen, who was hurt during Game 2 of the NL Division Series when Arizona pinch runner Alex Cintron ran into him, has shown enough progress in recent days to give the Cardinals reason to believe he could return as soon as Game 3 (Saturday in San Francisco).

"I think it's going to be tough; my back's against the wall right now," said Rolen, who had 31 homers and 110 RBI this season. "I haven't put any time frame, any limits or anything. If I'm ready in San Francisco, I'm going to go out on the field."

Team doctors have told Rolen, acquired in a July blockbuster trade with the Phillies, that he wouldn't risk serious injury by returning before he's 100 percent.

For the first time since suffering the injury, Rolen yesterday participated in some pre-game drills. He played catch and had pitches thrown to him in the batting cage, though he did not attempt to swing the bat.

"The fact that he was improving that much got us optimistic that over a seven-game series, there's a chance he would be ready," said La Russa, who had only four healthy players on his bench last night. "He's part of how our club became special. It was pretty easy to put him on, or keep him on, actually."

Baker to Mets?

San Francisco's Dusty Baker woke up yesterday to rumors that the New York Mets are courting him for their vacant managerial position.

Baker, whose contract expires at the end of the season, didn't put too much stock into reports of his potential move to the East Coast. He seemed more preoccupied with his current job.

"I hate to tell you guys, I don't read the newspapers too much," he said. "That's one way I deal with it. And there's nothing that really can be done about anything until everything is over."

Williams good to go

Cardinals right-hander Woody Williams, who missed the NLDS with a pulled muscle on his left side, is scheduled to start Game 2 tonight against the Giants' Jason Schmidt.

The injury has been hampering Williams all season he spent 13 weeks on the disabled list over two stints, though he managed to go 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 17 total starts.

"I think maybe warming up I might have some concerns," Williams said. "But once I make it past getting loose and getting ready for the game, there's no way I can have my focus on my body or my side. I've got to be out there prepared and focused on making pitches."

Angels fans rush for tickets

ANAHEIM, Calif. Thousands of Anaheim Angels fans scrambled to buy World Series tickets at the ballpark, with up to 20,000 fans charging the gates and police in riot gear wading through the crowd around Edison Field.

Fans drove from as far away as Las Vegas and San Francisco for a chance to get a wristband just to participate in the ticket lottery, which limited them to a maximum of four tickets per home game.

"I've been here for three hours and I don't even have a wristband," said Dwight Hanson, 33, of Irvine. "It's kind of weird to see police in riot gear. I've never seen anything like this."

The unofficial crowd estimate was between 15,000 and 20,000, Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez said.

Mind reader

MINNEAPOLIS Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski has a harder time dealing with the differences in his own pitchers than he does with the opposition.

On a staff with mellow Rick Reed and excitable Eddie Guardado, Pierzynski has to play the role of psychologist with his hurlers.

"Each pitcher is different," Pierzynski said. "You have to do different things with certain guys. Some guys you can go out and kick into gear, some guys need to be calmed down. Eleven guys who you have to treat in different ways."

During Tuesday night's tense ninth inning when Guardado was trying to protect a one-run lead, Pierzynski tried to lighten the mood.

"'Jeez. You don't have to give me a heart attack every time you go out there,'" he told his closer. "I just tried to calm him down."

With Game 2 starter Rick Reed, Pierzynski takes a silent approach and lets pitching coach Rick Anderson deal with him.

"Reed is a different animal," Pierzynski said. "He's the hardest guy on the staff to read. He's been through it all before, the LCS and the World Series. It's hard to decipher him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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