Monday, October 16, 2006

Spiezio EARNED his starts

Will he be back next season? I sure hope so!!

Spiezio is stepping up this postseason.
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.

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