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Cards bypass Ludwick in opener

Cards bypass Ludwick in opener

ST. LOUIS -- The juggling act continues.

For the second time in three games, Ryan Ludwick did not start. Instead, all three of the club's lefty-swinging flycatchers got the call -- Chris Duncan in left field, Rick Ankiel in center and Skip Schumaker in right. But for the vast majority of the team's upcoming homestand, the Cards' hottest hitter is expected to play every day.

"Right now he's playing better than any of them, so he's going to play more than anybody," manager Tony La Russa said. "But the way we've gotten to this point is that they're all staying alive and sharp. I'm not going to change that."

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The deciding factor on Tuesday was opposing starting pitcher Shawn Chacon. The Astros right-hander has stifled right-handed hitters this year, holding them to a .229 batting average, a .289 on-base percentage and a .397 slugging percentage. Lefties, on the other hand, are smoking Chacon to a .294/.381/.529 line. So it's not about Ludwick avoiding a right-hander, but rather about getting the best opportunity for all the left-handed hitters.

"[Chacon] has .220 versus .290," La Russa said. "Just looking at the whole week, I know Lud's going to play a lot. It doesn't make a difference if they're right or left for Ludwick, but he's got more guaranteed playing time [coming up] than some of our left-handers, so I don't want to miss this chance."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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