Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcgee May Fill in for Ailing Lankford

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcgee May Fill in for Ailing Lankford

Article excerpt

Ray Lankford is 0 for 11 and can't throw much beyond second base. Willie McGee is fresh, not having started a game in a week.

For those reasons, look for McGee to start in center field Sunday night for the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

"I'm definitely considering it," said La Russa. "Ray's a tough out against (Denny) Neagle (Lankford is seven for 26) but he's not 100 percent and it appears there's some bother there. "It appears it wouldn't be the fairest situation for him. But we'll see. I want to talk to Ray when he gets here. (McGee) hasn't had a start in the NLCS yet. He probably won't get a very good reception," said La Russa kiddingly, knowing McGee's immense popularity. It is somewhat remarkable that Lankford is even playing after suffering a torn rotator cuff two weeks ago. But he is not the same player who hit 21 home runs, drove in 86 runs and made just one error in the field. In effect, Lankford feels he is playing with one hand behind his back. Asked how many throws he had in his arm, he said, "I might have one. But I've got to save it. Make sure you're watching it when it happens." Lankford was lifted for McGee in the ninth inning Saturday after he lobbed the ball to second base on a short sacrifice fly by Jermaine Dye in the eighth inning Saturday. "I know he can throw better than that one throw," said La Russa. "But the smartest thing he did was not to throw the ball to the plate." Lankford said his theory was "to catch the ball and get it to the cutoff man as soon as possible." La Russa is a bit mystified by Lankford's slump although he finished the season eight for 47 when he was healthy. "The ball's jumping off his bat in (batting practice)," said La Russa. " I just think he's in kind of a rut right now. I know he's real upset with his at-bats." Lankford said, "I don't care if I make an out, I just want to hit the ball solid. But I don't want to make excuses. Right now, I'm just searching for that comfort zone. Whatever I'm doing now is not comfortable. I hope I can find it before all this stuff is over." Asked if he would play Sunday, Lankford said, "Knowing Tony, why change things? …

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