Rasmus will return to Cards' lineup Monday

Rasmus will return to Cards' lineup Monday

WASHINGTON -- Colby Rasmus will have to wait one more day than expected to make his return to the Cardinals' starting lineup.

Originally listed as St. Louis' center fielder, Rasmus was a last-minute scratch in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Nationals. The decision was not announced in the press box until the Nationals were taking the field to begin the afternoon game. The official reason for the change was listed as "manager's decision," and both Rasmus and manager Tony La Russa said that Rasmus did not have a setback in his recuperation from a right calf injury. The decision was not announced in the press box until the Nationals were taking the field to begin the afternoon game. The official reason for the change was listed as "manager's decision," and both Rasmus and manager Tony La Russa said that Rasmus did not have a setback in his recuperation from a right calf injury.

"I've done it for years," La Russa said. "When a guy's ready, you give him one more day just to have that peace of mind. We felt like a day game would be a push. You start sweating, dehydrating. He'll be in there tomorrow."

The late switch was odd, especially from La Russa, who typically would rather post a lineup late than have to make a change to an already-posted card. Both player and manager painted it as a matter of caution and nothing more.

"They're just giving me another day," Rasmus said. "Talked about it and that's what we came up with. I'm good."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on its website, however, that the move was based at least in part on the potential for an ill fit between Rasmus and home-plate umpire Rob Drake. The move was made after La Russa and Washington manager Jim Riggleman conferred with the umpiring crew regarding an incident between the two clubs the night before, though there was no indication that any issue between player and umpire was discussed in that meeting.

As for upcoming games, La Russa said Sunday that Rasmus' approach at the plate will determine how frequently the second-year player is in the lineup over the season's final five weeks.

A Cardinals team in need of a boost could certainly use Rasmus' combination of power and on-base ability in the lineup every day or close to it. However, La Russa still feels that there is too much inconsistency in Rasmus' at-bats. The more the second-year center fielder erases that tendency, the more he'll play.

"He's had all the work," La Russa said. "He's never backed off the work, taking batting practice. I think it all has to do with what his concentration is, and what his focus is. I do believe that -- you just watch his swings in batting practice and in the game -- I think he is convinced that he helps us more if he just yanks the ball out of the park. That normally is not the case, because you're limiting yourself to a side of the park and you're vulnerable to too many pitches. We really push, 'Just play the game.' That's what Jon [Jay] does. He plays the game. take a single, take a walk, let the home runs come."

Rasmus, who struck out as a pinch-hitter to end Sunday's game, is batting .268 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .501 slugging percentage. He's slumped since the All-Star break, but it's no secret that he can be prone to both slumps and extreme hot streaks.