ST. LOUIS — If the crick in Danny Cox's neck continues to improve, he will be the St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitcher against the San Francisco Giants Friday night in Game 3 of the National League playoffs.
Should Cox be unable to pitch, it will put another crimp into Manager Whitey Herzog's plans. Joe Magrane, originally scheduled to pitch Friday, was pushed back to Saturday's Game 4 because Cox was unable to pitch in the opening game. Now, if Cox's condition has not improved, Magrane will start Friday, after all.
Herzog said he probably will announce his starter after an early evening workout tonight at Candlestick Park.
Should Magrane have to replace Cox, he will have more notice than Greg Mathews did in Game 1. Mathews was told four hours before the game.
Magrane said not knowing is not a worry.
"I'm preparing to pitch Friday," Magrane said. "If not, I will have an extra day of preparation."
For the second straight playoff game, Ozzie Smith performed his popular back flip heading onto the field before the game.
Smith had stopped doing it after 1985, when he suffered a shoulder injury.
"I'm just glad he didn't break his . . . neck," Herzog said. "He did go pretty high, didn't he? Maybe next time, we'll have Lindy (first baseman Jim Lindeman) do it."
Add Smith: Except for the flip, Smith was a flop Wednesday.
He and Willie McGee didn't communicate on Jose Uribe's fly ball in the fifth. It landed between them for a double. Then there was Smith's two-run fielding error on Uribe's ground ball in the eighth.
Also, Smith was warned by second base umpire Eric Gregg for interfering with a throw to second base.
On that play, Smith was on second base with none out and Terry Pendleton at the plate. Pendleton flied to right and Candy Maldonado threw the ball to second base.
Smith raised his hands as if to catch the ball as Uribe waited for it. Giant Manager Roger Craig briefly argued that Smith should have been called out for interference, but Gregg only warned Smith.
Said Craig: "I thing it was just an instinctive thing with Ozzie. Just fooling around. But that could have been interference."
Magrane, asked to comment on Giant slugger Jeffrey Leonard's derogatory comments about the speed of Greg Mathews' pitches, smiled and said:
"I think I have learned from watching politics in the last year not be controversial. So, I will eloquently avoid that question."
Asked about his image as a flake, Magrane said: "That's a big responsibility. But I don't want it being my epitaph. I know when it's time to be serious and I know what it takes to succeed."
Jack Clark update: His injured ankle still is sore. He has not run or taken batting practice. It has been reported that Herzog may try to play Clark in Game 6.
"I think he's getting better, but I don't know when he'll play," Herzog said.
The Cardinals will work out from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight, trying to simulate game conditions at Candlestick Park, where the swirling wind kicks up in the late afternoon.
Bob Brenly wasn't catching--Bob Melvin was--when the Giants gunned down Cardinal base stealer Tony Pena on a pitchout. But Brenly was at Craig's side when the pitchout was called.
"If you keep your eyes and ears open long enough in this game, you'll see and hear everything," Brenly said. "Roger's got the biggest ears in the league, and his eyes are always open."
Jeffrey Leonard, asked why he had a clause in his contract that would reward him for being playoff MVP, instead of the usual ones for season MVP or World Series MVP, said: "Fortunately, I have a good lawyer, who knew what I was capable of doing."
Leonard was supposed to sit out Game 1 until Cox pulled out with a stiff neck. Now, Cox is scheduled to pitch Friday. Will Leonard, 5 for 8, start? "It's a possibility, the way Jeffrey is swinging the bat," Craig said. "I have a day to think about it. We have a lot of good hitters, like (Mike) Aldrete and (Eddie) Milner. I'm thinking of maybe even throwing Milner or Aldrete in there the next time (lefties Greg) Mathews or (John) Tudor pitches."
Mike Krukow, impressed with the way everybody wears red at Busch Stadium, is asking Giant fans to wear black at this weekend's games.
"Not orange, black," he insisted.
Times staff writer Mike Downey contributed to this story.