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    For St. Louis Cardinal Fans: Kline wants to come back

    "Miserable" Kline wishes he'd stayed here
    By Rick Hummel
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    04/14/2005

    "I'm miserable," Steve Kline said.

    The biggest reason, of course, is the 23.18 earned-run average that was the first week's work for the former Cardinals lefthander who now is wearing Baltimore Orioles orange and black.

    But, Kline says, his feelings go beyond statistics.

    "It's not what I thought it would be," Kline said, declining to address the negative specifics emanating from his brief time in Baltimore. "Sometimes you miss the old places. But you've got to play the hand you're dealt."

    Kline, 32, is with the Orioles because they dealt him a $5.5 million hand for two years, far more than the Cardinals cared to invest in the reliever, who was here for four years. "I had to take care of my family," he said.

    But he said that among other things, he missed the "leadership" involved in playing for Tony La Russa and the Cardinals - "the way guys went about their business. I miss a lot about the guys in St. Louis. ... St. Louis always got me geared up to play there."

    Kline said he would undo his free-agent departure if he could. "I'd like to rub that bottle and have that genie come out," he said, "and grant me a wish that I could go back."

    Speaking from his hotel room in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Orioles are playing a series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kline acknowledged that he was speaking in a tone of almost total frustration.

    "I feel like I'm going through the motions right now, I guess," he said, "instead of being all pumped up, rocking and rolling and coming in cussing.
    "I need to start concentrating on every pitch or something. I guess I have to try something different."

    Most displeasing, he said, was that he temporarily had lost his zeal for the game.

    "I'm just rolling with the punches. I'm not having any fun on the field," he said. "Going to the ballpark is the only thing that stinks right now, and that's the worst thing to hear from a professional athlete."

    Kline surrendered two three-run homers in the space of three appearances. One was to Oakland's Eric Brynes and the other to Ruben Sierra of the New York Yankees. The six runs he gave up were only four fewer than he permitted all last season, when he allowed no earned runs at Busch Stadium.

    But both home runs came after defensive plays that could have been made. "Really stupid plays," Kline said, taking care not to assign blame.

    On the first play, Kline fielded a sacrifice bunt by Oakland's Mark Kotsay and tossed toward second baseman Brian Roberts, only to have John Gibbons, something of a novice first baseman, intercept the ball before it got to the bag. All runners were safe.

    With two on and none out, "Everybody in the world thought they were bunting again," Kline said. "There was a play where I was going to cover third base, but (Byrnes) swung and hit it out of the ballpark. I threw the pitch right down the middle, letting him bunt, thinking it was National League style, you know. Shame on me."

    On Saturday in New York, Kline watched with some disbelief as Yankees batsman Hideki Matsui hit a popup that dropped for a double in left field, out of left fielder B.J. Surhoff's reach and well away from shortstop Miguel Tejada, who had decided not to give chase.

    Sierra was quoted as saying he thought Kline was so disturbed at the ball dropping that he fired the next pitch down the middle. "It cut back over the middle," Kline allowed.

    "Six runs in 2 1/3 innings has not been pretty. I'm throwing 90 (mph), my (surgically repaired) finger is fine and my stuff is pretty good. But I can't catch a break, and I've made two mistakes that cost me homers.

    "I'm so used to (Edgar) Renteria and Jimmy (Edmonds) running down my mistakes and picking me up," he said, recalling his Gold Glove teammates with the Cardinals.

    Even though one of the home runs was on the road, Kline said he already had begun to hear it from the Baltimore fans. "There's nothing worse than getting booed at home," Kline said. "St. Louis fans are too good for that. They understand the game more than most people."

    For now, Kline said he will try to make the best of his new situation. But he left little doubt about his aspirations.

    "A 20-something ERA doesn't look good. I don't think (the Cardinals) would take me back with that," Kline said.

    "Maybe if I get it down to 10, it would be a little different.

    "It's going to take me a little while to realize what's going on and to put the past behind me. I miss St. Louis. But what can you do?"

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: For St. Louis Cardinal Fans: Kline wants to come back

    That's too bad for him. He was a real spark plug for us. I guess he is experiencing the negative side of greed; getting the money, but not enjoying the benefits of it. I would have liked to keep him, but his price was more than his value.
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