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NOTES

Return of Durazo Is Not Much Help

October 06, 2002|From Wire Reports

ST. LOUIS — There was talk in Arizona of sending out a search party to find once-promising slugger Erubiel Durazo, who did not appear in the first two games of the National League division series even though the Diamondbacks were desperate for offensive punch.

Durazo finally showed up as the No. 5 hitter in the Diamondbacks' lineup Saturday night for Game 3.

The whisper around Bank One Ballpark was that Durazo was locked in Manager Bob Brenly's doghouse after refusing to play the outfield late in the season.

He prefers to play first base, which is where he was Saturday.

Brenly reiterated that the decision to sit Durazo in the first two games was strategic, not vindictive.

"As I said before Game 1, we were anticipating low-scoring ballgames with runs at a premium and defense at a premium," Brenly said.

"We decided to go with Mark Grace, our best defender. Game 2 against Chuck Finley, we went with our lefty-killer Greg Colbrunn. [Now] is Erubiel Durazo's turn."

Durazo didn't take advantage, going hitless in four at-bats.

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Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa continued to express hope that injured third baseman Scott Rolen will bounce back quickly from the shoulder sprain he suffered in Game 2.

"I asked him if he needed help taking his shirt off," La Russa said. "He said no, he was all right, so I think it's just a case of hang with it and wait a few days and see how he feels."

The official timetable is 10 to 14 days, but there is no way of knowing how long it will take for Rolen to overcome the injury he suffered when baserunner Alex Cintron slammed into him. It's unlikely he will play in the National League championship series, but he might be sound in time to play in the World Series, if the Cardinals get there.

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Diamondback pitcher Miguel Batista is a sensitive guy who has a way with words. He has a book of Spanish poetry in print in the United States and his native Dominican Republic, with the proceeds benefiting the Diamondbacks Charities and the Miguel Batista Foundation.

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Carole Buck, widow of longtime Cardinals' broadcaster Jack Buck, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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Fernando Vina was two for four Saturday and went nine for 15 in the series for the Cardinals after a subpar .270 average in the regular season.

"You always want to be confident," Vina said. "As a leadoff hitter the weight is on your shoulders to try to get something going for the ballclub."

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Miguel Batista was 8-9 with a 4.29 earned-run average during the regular season, a decided step down from Randy Johnson (24-5) and Curt Schilling (23-7). But Brenly never considered using Johnson on three days' rest, reasoning someone other than his big two would have to beat the Cardinals for the Diamondbacks to advance.

"The Cardinals just had a great approach," Brenly said. "They stayed disciplined and used short, contact swings."

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