- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2006

NEW YORK — The status of Cliff Floyd’s much-discussed left Achilles’ tendon didn’t change at all yesterday. That wasn’t good news for the New York Mets.

Floyd was not in the Mets’ starting lineup for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, his strained heel not in good enough shape to play. Manager Willie Randolph did say the veteran left fielder could be available to pinch-hit against the St. Louis Cardinals, but former Washington National Endy Chavez was in the lineup.

Floyd, who originally hurt himself during the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, aggravated the injury running down the first-base line during his first at-bat Thursday night in Game 1. He was replaced moments later in the field by Chavez.

Randolph said Floyd had an ultrasound yesterday which revealed no new damage. The manager also said he believes there’s still a chance Floyd could return to play the field before this series is over.

“I hope so,” Randolph said. “It’s just a matter of how comfortable he feels moving around on the leg. Right now, we’re going to use him as a pinch-hitter, and hopefully as the days go on … he’ll feel better and we can get him back out there.”

Floyd did not appear on the field during batting practice, but he said after Thursday’s game he would try to make it back into the Mets’ lineup.

“If I can do it, I’ll do it,” he said. “This time of year, you can’t really hold back and say, ‘Well, two days [off] are going to help.’ Everybody’s banged up at this particular time. If we say we’re going to give everybody a day of rest, [heck], we wouldn’t have nobody to play.”

Rolen out, Spiezio in

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pulled a mild surprise last night, benching star third baseman Scott Rolen and replacing him with veteran utilityman Scott Spiezio.

Rolen has been battling a left shoulder injury for some time, but La Russa said that wasn’t necessarily the impetus for the lineup switch. Perhaps Rolen’s struggles at the plate (1-for-14 this postseason) had more to do with it.

“I start by saying it’s not an enjoyable decision,” La Russa said. “For one thing, he’s one of our core guys. We definitely want to play key games with your core horses in the lineup. And …. he said he’s OK to go. But I watched him yesterday. To me, something is prohibiting his stroke from being right.”

Rolen hit .296 with 22 homers and 95 RBI this season. Spiezio hit .272 with 13 homers and 52 RBI in limited playing time.

Times have changed

Back when they were opponents, Willie Randolph used to get annoyed at Carlos Delgado for being so chatty on the field.

Now, Randolph loves the personality and leadership Delgado brings to the New York Mets’ clubhouse.

Delgado played mostly first base for Toronto from 1993 to 2004, and Randolph spent 1994-2004 coaching with the Yankees.

“You watch Carlos over the years, it always disturbed me a little bit because he’s almost too relaxed,” said Randolph, now in his second season managing the Mets. “When I was at third base giving the signs, he would always talk to my guys on first base and I would get on his case about shutting his mouth.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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