- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 15, 2005

From combined dispatches

HOUSTON — As if facing Roger Clemens isn’t a tough enough proposition, the St. Louis Cardinals might have to play Game 3 of the National League Championship Series without two regulars.

Left fielder Reggie Sanders and right fielder Larry Walker are questionable for today’s game, in which Clemens will start for the Houston Astros. Sanders took a hard fall trying to catch a line drive by Adam Everett in Game 2 on Thursday night, and manager Tony La Russa said the team doctor likened it to “a train wreck.”

Sanders has driven in 12 runs in five postseason games.

“He’s doing better than we expected,” La Russa said. “He’s up, he’s moving around. I think we’ve got a chance for him to be in [today].”

The 38-year-old Walker has been bothered by a herniated disk in his neck and sore knees. The wear and tear has taken a toll on Walker, who is only 1-for-16 (.063) in five playoff games.

If either is unavailable, La Russa said So Taguchi probably will start in one of the corner outfield spots. Taguchi hit .288 with 53 RBI in 396 at-bats this season and played at least 270 innings each in left, center and right field.

Cards keep Ankiel

St. Louis purchased the contract of former pitcher turned minor league outfielder Rick Ankiel, just hours before the former phenom left-hander was due to become a minor league free agent.

The move signifies the team’s belief that Ankiel, 26, has promise in his new career, along with an unwillingness to cut ties with a player who has been in the organization since being picked in the fourth round of the 1997 draft. Those factors, plus the team’s age in the outfield, may give him a decent chance of making the roster next year.

Walker is expected to retire after the season. Left fielder Reggie Sanders is 37, center fielder Jim Edmonds is 35 and the top outfield backups are Taguchi, 36, and John Mabry, who’ll be 35 on Monday.

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