Giants hope Marco Scutaro can play

ST. LOUIS -- Less than 24 hours after he saw his second baseman writhing in pain on the infield dirt, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday he is "hopeful" that Marco Scutaro will feel good enough to start Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday.

Bochy also shot down any suggestions that the Giants could retaliate because of what he continued to characterize as an "illegal slide" by Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.

"That's over," Bochy said, pointedly. "You have to move on. You hate to see what happened happen. But what's important is, we keep our focus, and going out there and trying to win a ball game. That's where we're at right now."

Scutaro also said Tuesday, in his first public comments since the injury, that he thinks he can play, and said he was surprised he felt as good as he did, the day after the collision.

"I didn't think I was going to feel this good today," he said. "I thought it would be worse. Normally, the next day is when you kind of feel the worst. I'm just happy that nothing real bad happened and I still have my leg there."

Asked if he was upset with Holliday, Scutaro replied: "After I saw the replay, kind of. He's a guy who always plays hard. I think he just kind of slid a little late. I guess he didn't try to do that. He was just coming full speed. But to be honest, I'm just happy that nothing real bad happened and I'll be able to probably play tomorrow."

His manager admitted that when he saw Scutaro lying on the infield dirt "in a lot of pain" after Holliday's first-inning slide in Game 2, he "feared the worst." But an MRI Tuesday showed that Scutaro has a strain and contusion of the left hip, plus "his left knee is a little sore," Bochy said.

Initially, Bochy and the Giants trainers told Scutaro that they didn't want him to take part in the club's workout at Busch Stadium. But Scutaro eventually talked them into at least letting him take batting practice.

"I just wanted to move around a little bit and see what's going on," he said.

The 36-year-old second baseman, who was acquired by the Giants in a late-July trade with Colorado, said the injury affects him the most "probably running" and "when I move side to side when I'm playing defense."

Weather forecasts for Game 3 looked ominous late Tuesday. But the Giants insist that weather or a wet field won't necessarily be the determining factor in whether Scutaro starts or not. The decision will be based "more on how he feels," Bochy said.

"I would say playing second base, just moving around, his range, I'm sure (the injury has) affected it," the manager said. "But still it's going to affect his hitting, too, if he's not quite right. But I will say he's more optimistic about where he's at right now than when it first happened."

Even after seeing several replays of Holliday's slide, Bochy said Tuesday that "I haven't changed my stance" that the slide was illegal.

"I don't think there was intent, to be honest, (of) hurting somebody, but it was late," the manager said. "I explained my reasons (Monday) night. Marco was behind the bag. He really didn't hit dirt until he got behind the base. And the second baseman, he's in a position there where there can be come damage done, as we saw. ... So I don't think my stance has changed at all. It's a case where I know they're playing hard and we're playing hard. But I do think that's an illegal slide."

The Cardinals, however, continue to defend Holliday. Teammates said Holliday was so upset about what happened to Scutaro, he asked Giants catcher Buster Posey during the game to relay his apologies, then attempted to call Scutaro afterward. And Scutaro confirmed that, but said he still hadn't spoken with Holliday because he was away from the clubhouse getting X-rayed when Holliday called.

"I know he was concerned about Scutaro's health and tried to reach out over there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Holliday. "And I saw his comments and heard him firsthand that if he had to do it over again, he wouldn't slide quite so late.

"To me," Matheny went on, "what I see is a guy who I've never seen one act of trying to hurt anybody. And I would never believe that's what he was trying to do (Monday). He was trying to play the game hard and trying to break up a double play. Unfortunately, a player did get hurt on the other side. You never want to see that happen for either team. But I know what Matt's intentions were, and he was thinking about his team at the time."

Scutaro stopped short of agreeing with Bochy that the slide was illegal, saying he wasn't sure of the rule. But he said several times he felt extremely grateful that he wasn't seriously hurt.

"I was just trying to make sure I got one out," he said. "It was a slow roller. And all of a sudden, I just saw this train coming. I didn't have time to pretty much do anything."