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Rain, Pain Affect NLCS Opener

Game is washed out as Mets, Cardinals watch news reports on plane accident in which Yankees pitcher Lidle died.

October 12, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The players and staffs of the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals hunched their shoulders and ducked into the darkness outside Shea Stadium on Wednesday night, many of them having lost a friend only a few miles away and a few hours before.

A steady, cold rain had washed out Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, which instead will open tonight, Tom Glavine starting for the Mets and Jeff Weaver for the Cardinals.

Game 2 was rescheduled for Friday, probably in the afternoon. Without the off day and barring a sweep, the first five games of the series will be played over five days, potentially problematic for two teams with already thin starting rotations.

As required by Major League Baseball, they'd set their rosters earlier Wednesday. Because of outfielder Cliff Floyd's tender left heel, the Mets reduced their pitching staff from the division series roster by one, to 11, and added utility man Anderson Hernandez. The Cardinals opted for four starters, ultimately choosing rookie Anthony Reyes, who will pitch Game 4, over veteran Jason Marquis.

Given the new schedule, both teams might have considered fortifying their rotations. The Mets have had left-hander Dave Williams throwing simulated games in Florida. The Cardinals could have retained Marquis as well as Reyes.

Instead, it appears both have little choice but to bring back their Game 1 starters on three days' rest. A league official said that by Wednesday night there had been no discussions about resubmitting rosters today.

"If it comes up," Senior Vice President Jimmie Lee Solomon said, "we will talk about it."

Said another official: "I would think they are what they are."

Major League Baseball also was contemplating Friday's start times -- Game 3 of the ALCS will be in Detroit, Game 2 of the NLCS in New York. Evening snow has been forecast in Detroit, meaning league officials, in conjunction with Fox, are considering playing the ALCS game in the afternoon and the NLCS game at night.

The value of the extra day might be better felt in the Cardinals' clubhouse, where third baseman Scott Rolen and center fielder Jim Edmonds were dealing with nagging injuries. Rolen received a cortisone injection for his ailing left shoulder Sunday night, and Edmonds takes routine treatment on his sore foot.

"It can't be a bad thing," Edmonds said. "But I'd like to get things underway."

The Mets have their own day-to-day matter with Floyd, who not only made the roster but was in Wednesday night's starting lineup, batting sixth and playing left field.

"I'm hot, ready to go," Floyd said. "My mind-set is to stay ready, stay focused on playing the game. So regardless of what happens, I'm ready to play."

Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa bowed to the whims of October weather.

"Playing five in a row, actually, it's a better test because that's kind of what you do throughout the season," he said. "So, Mother Nature controls, and if that's the way it goes, that's the way you play it, and it will be the same for both teams."

Early Wednesday evening, after some hit in the indoor batting cages, others reviewed videotape, and nearly all watched on the clubhouse televisions the news of Cory Lidle's death, the Cardinals and Mets changed out of clean uniforms.

For those who knew Lidle, or learned of the young family he left behind, it had been an especially trying afternoon.

For the Cardinals, it began on a bus near Times Square at 4 p.m. Despite a police escort, they required an hour to reach the Queens-Midtown tunnel and another 30 minutes to arrive at the stadium. It ended on the same bus, their baseball game replaced by startling news and sadness.

"They are upset by it," La Russa said of his players.

Indeed, there was glumness where anticipation normally stood, just as there was a tarp where baseball was supposed to stand.

"I don't know how I'd describe it," Glavine said. "We all certainly would have been going out there with a little bit of a heavy heart. But that's life, unfortunately. I don't want to sit here and say it wouldn't have been tough, but we all have distractions we deal with every day. ... You go out there, you play the game and you do your best."

He added, "It wasn't your typical day getting ready for a ballgame. You don't usually see guys sitting around watching the news."

tim.brown@latimes.com

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