Tag:Randy Wolf
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm
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Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.

Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston

Probable lineup
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Probable rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

Back-end bullpen
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez

Important bench players

OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad

Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.

Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.

Pessimistic outlook
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:19 am
 

Homegrown Team: Philadelphia Phillies



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Phillies recently doled out $50 million to Jonathan Papelbon and last year gave Cliff Lee $120 million -- make no mistake, the Phillies are a large-market club using its money to lure top free agents. They've also sent prospects to get Roy Halladay in recent years, so there's been enough talent in the system to lure other teams into making big trades. This team knows what it wants and goes and get it -- by any means necessary. In this exercise, that's not possible. The Phillies, in this hypothetical, aren't the prohibitive favorite they were for the majority of 2011, but they're hardly the Cubs.

Lineup

1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Jimmy Rollins, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Scott Rolen, 3B
6. Marlon Byrd, LF
7. Domonic Brown, RF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C

Starting Rotation

1. Cole Hamels
2. Gavin Floyd
3. Vance Worley
4. Randy Wolf
5. Brett Myers

Bullpen

Closer - Ryan Madson
Set up - Antonio Bastardo, Alfredo Simon, Brad Ziegler, Michael Stutes, Kyle Kendrick
Long - J.A. Happ

Notable Bench Players

Nick Punto can play a ton of positions, but, well... There's also Pat Burrell and Jason Jaramillo, which may not be deepest bench.

What's Good?

The lineup -- when healthy -- is still pretty darn good. The rotation, while not exactly the historic rotation that the Phillies rolled out in 2011, is nothing to sneeze at and the bullpen is deep and talented. There's a bit to like here in all aspects of the game.

What's Not?

The health question, and age, are huge here. Utley, while still a very good player when he's on the field, he's had a multitude of injuries. Rolen played in just 65 games last season (for the Reds). Brown has yet to establish himself as an everyday player, but he is talented. And then there's the bench, which has Punto to play every position, but not much else. 

Comparison to real 2011

This team may be in the wild card race, but there's no way it finishes 102-60.  That said, there's a chance it could compete for the NL East title (even though I do love the Braves chances in this exercise). The starting pitching isn't as good, but the bullpen has enough arms to keep things close. There's also so depth that's not listed on this roster in guys like Kyle Drabek, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Outman that aren't going to wow you, but certainly help depth-wise and could play a role as a spot starter or in the bullpen in the course of a long season. The Phillies may buy some players, but they've also developed enough to stay competitive.

Next: Chicago White Sox

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
 

Eye on Photos: Cardinals take out Brewers in NLCS



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals have continued their Cinderella story, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, four games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Prince Fielder came through with a huge home run in Game 1, a Milwaukee victory. (Getty Images)
Despite the loss, Game 1 was when David Freese set the tone for a huge series, here with a three-run homer. (Getty Images)
After a lackluster Game 1, Albert Pujols broke through with a monster Game 2, pictured here with a two-run shot in the first inning. (Getty Images)
All kinds of awesome here, but my favorite part is that the umpire looks like he's shoving Yadier Molina out of the way. Pujols was safe, and the Cardinals went on to win 12-3. (Getty Images)
In Game 3, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided to go with Mark Kotsay in center. It did not go well in the first inning. (Getty Images)
In a matchup of aces, Yovani Gallardo coughed up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. The Brewers would lose 4-3. (Getty Images)
Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, did just enough to get the game to the bullpen with a lead. (Getty Images)
Yadier Molina with what appears to be his answer to the Brewers' "Beast Mode." (Getty Images)
Jerry Hairston's incredible slide helped propel the Brewers to victory in Game 4. (Getty Images)
St. Louis loves this one, right? (Getty Images)
Maybe they're talking about how much money combined they're gonna haul in this offseason. (Getty Images)
The Brewers' needed a huge performance out of starting pitcher Randy Wolf in Game 4 and he provided it, even gathering a double with his bat. (Getty Images)
Matt Holliday had struggled this postseason until this swing resulted in a wind-aided homer in Game 4. He'd start swinging the bat well after that. (Getty Images)
It wasn't necessarily why the Brewers lost the series, but there were far too many pictures like this. (Getty Images)
Octavio Dotel has been a major piece for the Cardinals this postseason. (Getty Images)
The squirrel. Nothing more needs to be said. (Getty Images)
An underrated piece for the Cardinals was Marc Rzepczynski, who twice came on to strikeout Prince Fielder in big spots, like here in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Jaime Garcia got what many thought was an early hook in Game 5, but the Cardinals bullpen would throw 4 1/3 shutout innings. (Getty Images)
Rough NLCS for Zack Greinke. (Getty Images)
Huge out here, as the Brewers had two on and nobody out for Ryan Braun, who grounded into this fielder's choice. It was close, too. (Getty Images)
This guy again? Freese's first-inning, three-run home run gave the Cardinals a big lead early in Game 6. (Getty Images)
Yes, that's Jonathan Lucroy on a home run trot. He cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. (Getty Images)
Things got so weird in Game 6, Lance Berkman made a diving catch. (Getty Images)
The Brewers had a big chance to carve into the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Corey Hart struck out to end the threat. (Getty Images)
That sound you heard was a collective gasp from the entire city of St. Louis. Pujols did stay in the game, though. (Getty Images)
Rafael Furcal gets a beer shower from teammates after the win. (Getty Images)


Up next for the Cardinals: The Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Cardinals are playing for their 11th World Series title, while the Rangers are playing for their first. St. Louis has homefield advantage despite having a worse regular-season record by virtue of the NL winning the All-Star Game. It's funny, too, that the deciding play in that game was a three-run homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 2:32 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 4

Francisco Rodriguez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers' bullpen has been a strength since the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez, but a bullpen is a strength you don't really want to rely upon, especially in a postseason series.

Coming into Game 4, no Brewers starter had gone more than six innings in the NLCS and only once -- in Game 1 of the NLDS -- had a Brewers starter done it in the postseason. In the first three games against the Cardinalds, the Brewers bullpen had pitched 11 innings to 15 by the starters.

Now, there's been plenty of rest in between and there are enough arms to get it done, but it's not exactly a good sign when relievers are pitching that much. In Game 4 Friday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was finally about to use his bullpen just like he wanted it -- Rodrigue in the eight and closer John Axford in the ninth, simple as that.

That was due to the performance of Randy Wolf, as the veteran left-hander threw seven innings, allowing just two runs and none after the third inning of MIlwaukee's 4-2 victory over St. Louis.

NLCS Coverage

Wolf, actually, was the first starting pitcher in this series to go into the seventh inning -- and he breezed through his last inning, finishing the day having allowed six hits, striking out six and walking one. He threw 107 pitches, 74 for strikes and retiring the final six batters he faced.

"There's no way I could put into words of just the intensity that's there every inning," Wolf said. "You know how important every out is. You know how either team, if they have an opportunity to score, how good they are at taking advantage of that opportunity."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on using his bullpen: "We had a chance to win today. This is October. This is not the season where when this series is over you have to play for another 20 days or something. It's real simple. This is the end of the season for these starters, too, so they are probably not as strong. Go as far as you can, as long as you can and we have plenty of bullpen help."

• Wolf on Matt Holliday's second-inning homer: "Off the bat, I first thought i was a foul ball, and then I saw the ball staying fair, i thought it was going to be a fly-out. But you know, he's one of those guys that has brute strength. He's just a big, strong guy, and you know, I think all three of us, me, George (Kottaras) and Matt, we were all kind of surprised that went out. But he's a strong enough guy. It's like trying to pitch to Brian Urlacher. He's a beast."

• Cardinals right fielder Allen Craig on Wolf: "We jumped on him early, and then he went away from his change up and started going to his curveball. That made it tough on us and we just didn't adjust."

• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke on the decision not to pinch-hit for Wolf in the sixth: "There was a lot going on there. You know, really, if we decided -- we decided that if we had a great opportunity with Wolf's spot, that we would probably hit for him. But how it came up, really, if we were going to do that, probably we were going to have to also hit for George. So you go through (Jonathan Lucroy) and then use a pinch-hitter. If we used Corey (Hart), they would have walked him, left-to-lefty and probably to face Nyjer (Morgan). There was a lot going on. They had some options. They had (Octavio) Dotel down warming up. They had a lot of options, and we did, too.

"I don't know why we decided to leave it as is. We already were up a run, which had a lot to do with it (and) felt good with George facing Arthur Rhodes and putting it in play and at least getting us one run. And he did a good job there."

• Craig Counsell on Jerry Hairston Jr.: "Every time he comes up, his at-bats are so solid. He's been a great addition. I don't think anybody anticipated him playing that great a role, but I know he's impressed everyone in here, that's for sure."

• Hairston on the team's loose attitude: "You know what, we are a loose bunch of guys. Even when we were getting beat pretty good in Game 2, we were still kind of loose. They just caught fire and really beat us pretty good, and I think one of the guys said we need to score two touchdowns to get back in the game. That's the type of team we have to be, we have to be loose, because, you know, I think it was in late August or early September, we tried to tone it down and we lost three or four games in a row, and we said, you know, we can't be that way. We have to go out there and have fun. No disrespect to any team, but we have to go out and have fun and enjoy ourselves, and we've been doing that and we've been successful."

• Hairston on the Brewers' breaking their eight-game playoff road losing streak: "Eight? Oh, like in '82? Come on man. I guess we can blame them for most of those losses, right? They were a great team, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor. Listen, that was a long time ago. We felt that we had been a pretty good road team the last six weeks of the season and we felt our team really started to get complete. We felt we could play anywhere."

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:30 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:32 am
 

Wolf gives Brewers a boost

Randy Wolf

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- There's still one more game in St. Louis, but the Brewers' 4-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday guaranteed the NLCS would return to Milwaukee this weekend.

Hero: Not much was expected of Randy Wolf -- so his allowing just two runs in seven innings, allowing the Brewers to hand the ball over to Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford to close the game out was huge -- and that may be an understatement. In a postseason where the Brewers starters not named Yovani Gallardo have struggled, Ron Roenicke has had to use his bullpen liberally -- and to not have to every make the trek to the mound in Game 4 could be a boost for the rest of Milwaukee's series.

Goat: Cardinals second baseman Ryan Theriot made a great play to start a double play ending the fifth inning, but in the next inning his error allowed he Brewers' fourth run to score. He also struck out with a runner on third and one out in the sixth inning.

Turning point: Jerry Hairston Jr.'s slide to score on Yuniesky Betancourt's fourth-inning was a thing of beauty -- and it tied the game. Hairston took off from second on Betancourt's grounder up the middle and was waved home as Jon Jay came up with the ball. Albert Pujols made a great relay after picking the ball up on the short hop and Yadier Molina had the plate blocked, but Hairston took a great angle to get around Molina and get one hand out to tag the plate just before the tag from Molina. 

It was over when … Yadier Molina swung over a curveball from Rodriguez to end the eighth inning. David Freese had singled with one out in the inning and advanced to second on Matt Holliday's groundout to second. Molina battled Rodriguez, fouling off four pitches, but couldn't get a piece of the seventh pitch of the at-bat, leaving the bottom of the Cardinals' order for Axford.

Next: Zack Greinke takes the mound for the Brewers against St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia at 8:05 p.m. ET in the last game of the series at Busch Stadium, but it won't be the last of the series as the Brewers' victory guaranteed the series would return to Milwaukee.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:06 am
 

Holliday gets first extra-base hit of playoffs

Matt Holliday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday has hit bigger blasts than the 342-footer in the second inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, but the solo homer had to be a relief for Holliday and the Cardinals.

The  opposite-field homer off of Brewers starter Randy Wolf was his first homer in 58 at-bats; the last one coming on Sept. 6 against Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. Since then, he's had an issue with his hand that has sapped his power. Before the home run on Thursday, Holliday hadn't had an extra-base hit in the postseason and none since a double on Sept. 26 in Houston, the day before he left a game early when his hand began to hurt too badly to play.

Tony La Russa had moved Holliday from fifth in the lineup to fourth for Games 2 and 3 before moving him back to fifth for Game 4, batting behind David Freese. He filled a hole left by Lance Berkman, who wasn't in the starting lineup.

"He's caught between a rock and a hard place," La Russa said of Holliday. "He's missed some key at-bats. I think his hand is all right, but here he is trying to get his stroke and his timing in the most pressure you feel all season, and it's a little bit unfair. So I'm going to keep him out of that four spot, hit Freese there today. He does well against lefties, and then the rest of the time against the right, I'll hit Berkman, keep Matt fifth."

Holliday has started every game of the LCS so far and entered Thursday's game 3 for 10, but he was just having no success driving the ball. Not that he drove the ball too far in the second inning, as from the right field auxiliary press box I had a pretty good view and watched Brewers right fielder Mark Kotsay drift and drift until the ball went over the fence. But this isn't Rock 'N' Jock, so the distance is nothing more than bragging rights, what's matter is that it cleared the fence, not by how much.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Berkman, Hart sit due to matchups

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman won the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award, but if he gets a chance to show why in Game 4 of the NLCS, it'll be in the late innings as a sub.

"Guys are kidding me, his reward for the award was a spot on the bench, so they were giving him a hard time," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. 

It's not just Berkman getting shown the seat for Game 4 -- the Brewers are also going with a different right fielder, sitting Corey Hart in favor of Mark Kotsay.

NLCS Coverage

Both Berkman and Hart have had trouble with the starting pitchers, Randy Wolf and Kyle Lohse, respectively. Berkman is just 3 for 32 lifetime against Wolf and Hart is 2 for 17 against Lohse.

While those aren't the largest sample sizes, Berkman said it's enough for him to understand the move by La Russa.

"I think off of an individual pitcher, once you get 15 at-bats, you probably have a decent idea about -- and even if the numbers are not -- don't tell the whole story, at least personally, you know how you feel when you go up there, like whether you feel like -- I can see the ball fine, and I've lined out eight times, and I haven't gotten any; or, if it's, man, I've got no chance and I've really struggled, this guy, he's just got my number or whatever," Berkman said. "You can tell that as a hitter pretty quickly; I would say as many as 10 at-bats, or as few as 10 at-bats I should say. Certainly I think when you compile 15 or 20 at-bats against a guy, you can have a decent idea. And again, none of this is hard and fast. I mean, heck, if I had started tonight, I might have gotten three hits. You just don't know. But, being a game of percentages and playing percentages, I think that -- I mean, I have 30 at-bats against Wolf, so I think that's plenty to figure out that I don't hit him very well at all."

Berkman is also slightly hobbled after getting hit by a pitch Wednesday night in the leg.

With Berkman out, La Russa moved David Freese up from seventh in the lineup to fourth and moved Matt Holliday back to fifth. Holliday has just two extra-base hits in his last 53 at-bats. In Berkman's spot in right field is Allen Craig, batting second. Craig's not exactly been a world-beater against Wolf either. Craig is 1 for 15 lifetime against Wolf and 0 for 12 this season.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Hart after Wednesday night's game that he'd be sitting him for Game 4.

"Just Corey's scuffling lately, and he scuffled against Lohse," Roenicke said. "So I talked to him last night after the game, and it sounded like putting Kotsay out there was a good way to go about it."

Kotsay is just 1 for 13 against Lohse. But Kotsay did have a home run Wednesday night and walk twice, while Hart is 1 for 12 in the NLCS and 6 for 33 in the playoffs. But Roenicke did say he'll be ready to use Hart as a pinch hitter if needed.

"it's really nice for me knowing that Corey Hart is on the bench as a pinch hitter," Roenicke said. "He's dangerous. They can't bring in a right-hander to face him because they think it's going to bother Corey."

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