ST. LOUIS It takes toughness, and maybe lunacy, to collidewith a train and laugh about it.
A train derailment is how Marco Scutaro described thecontroversial, body-flying takeout slide from Matt Holliday that sent theGiants second baseman to the MRI chamber in Game 2 of the NLCS Monday night.
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Scutaro emerged sore but expressed confidence he would startat second base for the Giants in Game 3 Wednesday night. And with no majordamage done, he demonstrated a willingness to forgive and forget.
And to laugh.
Asked what he thought about Hollidays efforts to reach outto him after the game, Scutaro offered a Mona Lisa smile.
That was kind of nice to, you know, hear from him afterhe tried to kick my ass, he said.
What if Holliday tries to approach him before Game 3?
I might kick his ass, he said.
Before batting practice? After?
Whenever he wants, Scutaro said, barely breaking face asreporters laughed. Hes only 6-4, 250. No big deal.
Its easier to choose laughter over loathing when the testscome back with just a strain and bruises and likely wont keep Scutaro off thefield for any greater length of time than the four innings he missed at thetail end of the Giants 7-1 victory in Game 2.
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Its a win that Scutaro helped to bring home with a pair ofsingles following the first-inning collision, including the bases-clearing linedrive in the fourth that Holliday, of all people, kicked for an error.
After seeing the replay of Hollidays slide, though, Scutaroagreed that it was over the top literally and otherwise. And yes, it upsethim.
Umm, after I saw the replay, kind of, Scutaro said. Youknow, hes a guy who always plays hard but I think he slid a little late. Iguess he wasnt trying to do that but he was coming full speed. To be honestIm just happy nothing real bad happened and Ill probably be able to playtomorrow.
How did he recall the play developing?
First of all I was just trying to make sure of one out,slow roller, and all the sudden I saw this train coming, Scutaro said. Ididnt have time to pretty much do anything. As soon as I caught the ball hewas on top of me and I dont even know how I threw the ball to first. But Ithink I did, right?
Was the slide illegal, as Giants manager Bruce Bochycontended?
I dont know too much about sliding rules, but I think itwas a little late, Scutaro said. As a second baseman, pretty much the onlyprotection you have is your bag. Seeing the replay, he slid at the bag. I dontthink there was intention for me. He was trying to break up a double play.
At least when they slide before the bag, you can use thebag as protection and jump or something.
Scutaro could only recall getting hit harder at second baseone time, when he played for the As and they had hit someone on the opposingteam. Scutaro was playing shortstop while turning the pivot when a runnertried to kill me.
He did not believe Holliday had that intent, even if thecollision felt like unnecessary roughness.
I dont think you can slide harder than that, Scutarosaid. Youll probably hit the shortstop.
Another circle of laughter. Another lightning round ofone-liners.
Do you want your pitchers to retaliate?
Ask them. I dont know. I just work here.
How would you want them to respond?
Yeah, I want them to throw a nine-inning shutout and wewin.
The Giants No. 2 hitter appeared able to provide some runsupport to those pitchers when the series resumes at Busch Stadium. He wasntsupposed to participate in the Giants workout Tuesday, as trainers preferredhe rest and get treatment. But after stepping off a four-hour flight, he joggedin the outfield and then stepped into the cage -- crushing two home runs in hisfirst round of batting practice.
The trainers, theyre doing a great job, Scutaro said. Ididnt think I was going to feel this good today. I thought I would be worse.Its usually the next day you feel it the most. Im just happy nothing reallybad happened and Ive still got my leg there.
Scutaro said he stayed in Mondays game because he felt hecould still move enough to contribute, but his hip pain increased and began toradiate to his groin. By the fifth inning, his leg was so numb that if pinchhitter Skip Schumaker had hit a ground ball a few feet to the side, he wouldnthave been able to reach for it.
A day later, he felt less numb, more nimble and apparently,willing to move on to the next depot.