Perhaps there was a moment where St. Louis 3B Scott Rolen acknowledged that veteran jerkfacee Scott Spiezio had a hell of a game Friday night, and maybe that will come with the Game 3 preview from the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss.

Rolen, one for 14 in the postseason after experiencing weakness in his left shoulder during the season’s final weeks, learned of his omission from the lineup when he reached the Cardinals clubhouse early Friday afternoon.

Describing himself as “very surprised and very disappointed,” Rolen assumed he would be in La Russa’s lineup after enduring an 0-for-three night against Mets starting pitcher Tom Glavine.

“I’m ready to play every day,” said Rolen, who batted .296 with 22 home runs and 95 RBIs this season. “I came to the park today expecting this would be one of those days.”

La Russa, who sat Rolen in Game 4 of the Cardinals’ first-round win over the San Diego Padres, explained the move by saying, “There’s something in his stroke that’s not right.”

Rolen countered that he felt comfortable with his at-bats Thursday, adding, “When I left the ballpark last night I assumed I was in the lineup.”

La Russa reiterated that he saw otherwise.

“You get seven chances to win four games, so there isn’t any game that you don’t think is critical,” La Russa said. “You don’t mess around with lineups and experiment. So this is a lineup that I think is our best chance to win. I watched Scott Rolen (Thursday) and, to me, his stroke is not right. There’s a couple things going on. There’s something that prevents his stroke from being right and I don’t think tonight is the right time to send him out there when you’ve got an alternative like Scott Spiezio.”

“The last time in Houston I sat him down for 10 minutes and explained it to him. My explanation was worthless, so what am I going to say?” La Russa said. “The last time I talked to him it was a worthless exercise. He didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t believe it. He didn’t understand it. I ‘benched’ him, which is so opposite what that conversation was about.”

“I told him, ‘We lost when you’re playing. We can lose without you playing. We want to get you well,'” La Rusa said. “One of the things we said we wanted was to get him here in October strong and fresh. But he wouldn’t admit to that, so we didn’t rest him. Then he said he was fatigued.”

“I’m not going to create a problem. I can’t believe he’s going to create the problem. So where’s the problem, except he’s worried about playing?” La Russa said. “I’m just trying to win the game, buddy.”