ST. LOUIS -- Jim Edmonds' first at-bat in a month showed
he's lost none of his flair for the dramatic.
A night after hitting a three-run pinch homer, Edmonds was in
St. Louis' starting lineup Tuesday after being sidelined since
mid-August due to post-concussion syndrome.
"That's one thing he's demonstrated," manager Tony La Russa
said. "He'll rise to the occasion."
St. Louis, which has lost six in a row and seen its NL Central
lead rapidly shrink, needs some more big moments from Edmonds.
The eight-time Gold Glove center fielder has made a number of
acrobatic catches during his seven seasons in St. Louis, and has
piled up just as many big hits. Memorably, his extra-inning homer
forced Game 7 in the 2004 NLCS, helping propel the team to its
first World Series in 17 seasons.
La Russa said Edmonds' clutch production over the years compares
favorably with that of teammates Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen,
Harold Baines from one of his early White Sox teams and Jose Canseco from the Oakland Athletics. He said he's often kidded
Edmonds for his ability to come through in a big network game, or
if hockey pal Chris Pronger is in attendance.
"Whenever Pronger was around, he'd always show off," La Russa
said. "He'd always have a big day. He has that ability to get to
that next level."
Edmonds had another of those moments Monday with his three-run
homer off Mike Thompson that tied it at 5 in the fourth inning,
although it wasn't enough to prevent another loss in the team's
late-season slide. St. Louis led by the division by seven games on
Sept. 20, and led by only 2½ entering Tuesday's game.
"It would have been a great story," La Russa said.
Still, neither La Russa nor Edmonds wanted to make too big of a
deal of his first meaningful swing in a long time, or his return to
the lineup. He was making his first start since Aug. 25, and only
his second since Aug. 12, so La Russa said it wouldn't be a total
shock if the post-concussion symptoms come back.
La Russa also noted that returning to form after a lengthy
layoff is more difficult at age 36.
"Everything is so up in the air," he said. "You just watch
and see how he gets through it. He may take two sprints in the
outfield and come back and say, 'I'm done.'
"We might as well find out."
Without much conviction, Edmonds said he felt "OK." He told
reporters they were making too big a deal of his return.
La Russa eased him in, batting him sixth against former teammate
Woody Williams. Edmonds, batting .262 with 19 homers and 68 RBI in
105 games, has batted fourth or fifth most of the season.
"This is just getting a chance to play, and we'll see how it
goes," Edmonds said. "That's all I can say right now. If you go
out there and make a fool of yourself and cause the team to lose,
then what are we talking about?"