After Friday's workout, it seemed likely that one of the St. Louis Cardinals' two injured outfielders would not play Saturday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. That was the case, though the outfielder deemed most likely to sit out -- Larry Walker -- was in the lineup and the one most likely to play -- Reggie Sanders -- was on the bench.
Sanders, who told reporters emphatically on Friday he would be in the lineup for Saturday's game, said he is still feeling pain in his neck and lower back after tumbling in the eighth inning of Thursday's Game 2 and did not play.
"Once I got off the pain medication I wasn't at the level I thought I was," Sanders said. "I think the pain medication was talking more than the body was. But the time I got off the pain medication and I got here, it wasn't good."
Walker, hitting just .111 in the NLCS, is suffering from a variety of undisclosed aches and pains but was in the lineup batting fifth against Houston Astros ace Roger Clemens. He went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly.
"Larry's desire overcomes a lot of his pain," Cardinals athletic trainer Barry Weinberg said. "You know his desire is there; it's a matter of being functional."
The loss of Sanders, who leads all players in the postseason with 12 RBI, left a large hole in the Cardinals' lineup. The decision not to play was left to Sanders, who said he is bothered equally by his sore neck and back.
"He was medically cleared," Weinberg said. "He's feeling better. If he felt like he would play, it was up to him. The way he was feeling wasn't good enough to start."
Sanders's status for Sunday's Game 4 is uncertain, though he hopes to play. "That's what we're looking to," Sanders said.
Astros' Presidential Fan
Former president George H.W. Bush, a Texas resident and ardent Astros fan, made his first appearance of the postseason, sitting behind home plate with Astros owner Drayton McLane.
"I'm thrilled to be here for this," Bush said. "This town is going crazy."
Bush spoke for several minutes with Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa. The former president said the two are good friends.
"Tony knows I love the guy but he knows I can't cheer for him," Bush said. . . .
Astros postseason star Chris Burke started in center field Saturday in place of Willy Tavares. Burke has started just one game at that position in his career.
"Well, I think Chris is swinging the bat pretty good right now and he has through these playoff games," Astros Manager Phil Garner said. "Going with a little bit of a hot hand. This is only a move to do today. I haven't even thought about tomorrow."