Kile Could Get Three Starts in NLCS

Tuesday, October 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals' World Series aspirations largely fall on the shoulders of Darryl Kile, who could get three starts in the NLCS.

Kile, who rebounded from eight victories in Colorado last year to his first 20-win season this year, will go in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series against the New York Mets. Manager Tony La Russa said he could also go in Games 4 and 7, each time on three days' rest.

Kile, who won Game 2 of the Cardinals' surprising opening sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the division series, said Monday he's not interested in looking ahead.

``All I know is I've been given a job to do on Wednesday and I'm going to try to do it the best I can,'' Kile said. ``When Tony says it's time for me to go out there and do my job again, I'll try to be ready to go.''

Kile threw 232 2-3 innings, the second-highest total of his career, although he's not accustomed to going on three days' rest. The only time he got fewer than four days between starts was June 27, when he pitched against the Reds only three days after going only two innings in a rain-delayed game.

``It's not about how the arm feels or how it doesn't feel,'' Kile said. ``It's about getting ready to go when he says it's my turn. That's just the way I look at things.''

Kile won seven of his last eight decisions, got victory No. 20 in his final start and allowed two runs in seven innings in the playoffs against the Braves.

Kile is the only member of the staff La Russa would consider using on short rest. Rick Ankiel, who'll go in Game 2, is a 21-year-old rookie. Andy Benes (Game 3) is coming off a knee injury that knocked him out of the rotation for about a month, and Pat Hentgen (Game 5) gave up a run per inning his last two regular-season starts.

Neither of those players were even used in the first round.

``I was asking Tony if Pat and I were even on the roster the first series,'' joked Benes, who pitched in the season finale Oct. 1. ``I'm well-rested, very well-rested.''

The Cardinals' No. 2 winner, Garrett Stephenson, doesn't figure in the equation. Stephenson (16-9) left the clincher against the Braves after 3 2-3 innings and is out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

Team physician Dr. George Paletta said the injury was brought on by Stephenson's career-high 200 1-3 innings and will not require surgery.

``Garrett is depressed,'' La Russa said. ``I don't think there's any question that you'll see him the next time in spring training.''

La Russa was undecided whether to replace Stephenson with a position player, probably outfielder-pinch hitter Thomas Howard, or reliever Alan Benes. La Russa said he likely would go with the extra bat.

The Cardinals will be facing left-handers the first two games and La Russa said outfielder Eric Davis, who batted .390 against lefties, would be in the lineup. He doesn't anticipate a change at third base, either, where Placido Polanco replaced slumping Fernando Tatis (3-for-36) the entire Braves series.

``Is there anything wrong with the way the other guy played?'' La Russa said. ``That's the thing.''

Polanco has a slight hamstring injury but said it should not pose a problem.

The Mets were 6-3 against the Cardinals in the regular season, sweeping them twice in May. The Cardinals returned the favor, sweeping New York Sept. 1-3.

What does it all mean?

``It was good for our confidence,'' second baseman Fernando Vina said. ``But right now it really doesn't mean anything because a new season starts Wednesday.''