© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
08/01/08 9:01 PM ET
Rolen back in the lineup on Friday
Third baseman homers in first at-bat after resting sore shoulder
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Two days off didn't do Scott Rolen's left shoulder much good. "No, not at all," Rolen said. "It's a long-term thing that won't heal, but I want to try to play through it. A couple days aren't going to be enough time for it to heal, but I'm willing to play through it." So, three hours before first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Rolen swung by the visiting manager's office to give Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston a thumbs-up. "I was just telling him I wanted to be in the lineup," Rolen said. Rolen felt the itch to get back on the field after taking the last two days off. He was held out of Toronto's 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, and the Blue Jays were idle on Thursday. But back in the lineup on Friday, Rolen made the most of his start, connecting for a three-run home run in his first at-bat in the second inning. Rolen hasn't given his shoulder ailment a name, but it doesn't seem to be causing him pain. It's simply restricting his motion or, as he put it, "not functioning properly." Despite his shoulder malfunction, Rolen's wish was granted and he found his name in Friday's lineup. However, it was further down the order than it's been all season. Rolen, who's hit anywhere from third to seventh in the Toronto order this season, was slotted in the eight hole on Friday. He had hit seventh his last three games. Rolen's lack of consistency, as well as a lack of power, has led to his descent in the Toronto order. Entering Friday's game, Rolen was hitless in his last 17 at-bats and was hitting a mere .163 over his last 23 games. His last multihit game came on July 20, and he hadn't hit a home run since June 26. "He's not hitting right now," Gaston said prior to the game. "He just doesn't have the range of motion in his arm. It doesn't hurt him. It's affecting his ability to hit. I'll give him more days off. I don't know how many." Rolen's willingness to play through his shoulder problem and his value on defense have made it hard for Gaston to keep his veteran third baseman on the bench. Nevertheless, the fact that Rolen is such an active third baseman at a physically demanding position probably hasn't helped him reduce the wear and tear on his body. "He's played outstanding defense, the best I've ever seen," Gaston said. "Especially for his size. And no matter where he fields the ball, the throw is always right there to the first baseman."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.