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Womack gets rest because of arm stiffness
HOUSTON - Second baseman Tony Womack was a late scratch from Wednesday's lineup after he complained about continued right elbow stiffness.
Manager Tony La Russa and head trainer Barry Weinberg insisted Womack's problem is unrelated to the condition that led to him have ligament transplant surgery early last October. Womack complained after Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Houston Astros about late-inning stiffness. Informed of Womack's continued discomfort, La Russa replaced Womack with Marlon Anderson Wednesday afternoon.
Weinberg called Womack's condition a triceps strain and classified him as day to day.
The Cardinals' leadoff hitter was two of four in Tuesday's win with his seventh stolen base and an RBI. He has hit safely in 10 of 12 games this season, including his last three, batting .400 against lefthanded pitching and .350 against righthanders.
La Russa said it is unlikely Womack will start today's series finale. His condition, however, is not considered serious enough for him to receive magnetic resonance imaging.
"It's probably a compensatory thing," Weinberg said.
Womack, acquired from the Boston Red Sox for minor-league reliever Matt Duff on March 21, pushed himself to be ready opening day from surgery that typically requires a year's rehab for a pitcher. Though his offensive game remains unaffected, Womack has been instructed to throw overhand as much as possible to reduce stress on the elbow.
"We don't think it has anything to do with (offseason surgery)," La Russa said. "But if it's bothering him enough that he mentions it to our trainers, there's no reason to push it. So he probably won't play the next two to be safe."
Womack started 12 of the Cardinals' first 14 games and is batting .360 with 11 runs scored and four RBIs. He has four walks and has a .431 on-base percentage.
Womack's influence has been obvious. Entering Wednesday's game, the Cardinals led the major leagues with 18 steals in 22 attempts. No other National League team had more than 14 steals before Wednesday. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles and Anaheim Angels were tied for the game's second-most thefts. Last season the Cardinals stole 82 of 114 attempts. At their current pace, the Cardinals would steal 208 bases, well short of their franchise-record 314 in 1985 but a 154 percent increase over 2003. Womack's seven steals are as many as last year's two most frequently seen leadoff hitters, Fernando Vina and Bo Hart, combined.
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