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REPORT

Spiezio Steps Up in Body and Soul

October 16, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — Scott Spiezio's postseason pluck has spawned a legion of admirers in St. Louis, many adopting his signature red soul patch.

Before Sunday's Game 4, Spiezio's five runs batted in during the National League Championship Series led the Cardinals, and the stick-on soul patches started appearing all over Busch Stadium.

Although Manager Tony La Russa has resisted the facial accessory so far, he has stuck with Spiezio in the Cardinals lineup, starting him over Scott Rolen in Game 2, Juan Encarnacion in Game 3 and Preston Wilson in Game 4.

"The reason Preston is not playing left field is that Scott is," La Russa said flatly. "That's what it came down to.

"It's hard ... with the lift that Scott has given us in games that he's started."

Batting second, Spiezio walked in the third inning Sunday and later scored the Cardinals' first run.

The Cardinals signed Spiezio to a minor league contract Feb. 17, six months after he'd been released by the Seattle Mariners.

Spiezio had signed a three-year, $9.2-million contract with the Mariners after 2003. In less than two seasons there, he was injured half the time and terrible the other half, and the Mariners swallowed about $4 million to be rid of him.

Out of curiosity -- and respect for Spiezio's agent, Barry Meister -- General Manager Walt Jocketty had Spiezio in for a once-over and a physical, saw Spiezio was in decent shape, and agreed to bring him to camp.

"We were impressed with him," Jocketty said. "He's the type of player Tony likes to have on his bench."

Not that he spends much time there anymore.

*

Tom Glavine and Jeff Weaver get their rematch tonight, both on three days' rest. Glavine and the New York Mets won Game 1, 2-0, when Carlos Beltran's sixth-inning home run was the only scoring.

In his career, Glavine has a 3.53 earned-run average in 25 starts on short rest. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Weaver has never started on three days' rest.

Both downplayed the effect of fewer days off, and Glavine joked that, if nothing else, it'll provide another chance to prove himself to Albert Pujols.

"If he truly didn't think I pitched well the other night," he said, "then I hope I do something tomorrow night to really impress him. That would be a good thing."

*

Mets right-hander Orlando Hernandez, unable to pitch in the playoffs because of a torn right calf, threw more than 50 pitches in the bullpen before Sunday night's game and afterward predicted he'd be able to pitch in the World Series, if the Mets made it as far.

"I think, yeah," Hernandez said. "I'm not feeling bad. I'm feeling good.... Everyone is surprised by it."

Hernandez is 9-3 in 19 postseason appearances, 14 of them starts.

*

When Steve Lyons made light two years ago of Shawn Green's decision to observe Yom Kippur, he was suspended.

Green said Sunday that he was not offended then, and still isn't, now that Lyons has been fired by Fox for comments made during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

"I like Steve," Green said. "I think he's a good guy. What he said about me, I thought he was making a joke."

*

tim.brown@latimes.com

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