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Gant Returns From Torn Rotator Cuff, Starts For Cardinals

September 3, 1996

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Ron Gant returned to the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup ahead of schedule Tuesday night, four nights after tearing the rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

Gant, who has 26 home runs and 73 RBIs, returned in time for the second game of a three-game series against the NL Central-leading Houston Astros, who began the day a half-game ahead of St. Louis.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the timing was happenstance.

``It’s an important coincidence but it is a coincidence,″ La Russa said. ``We need to win games and he’s a key guy. But I don’t care if this was the last game of the year, if he was unavailable he would not play.″

Gant hurt his non-throwing shoulder making a head-first slid into home plate Friday night. La Russa said Gant wouldn’t jeopardize his health by playing and Gant, the Cardinals’ No. 3 hitter, said he wouldn’t have to cut back on his swing.

``It feels good,″ Gant said. ``It’s a pretty small tear, they said. As long as it doesn’t get any bigger I’m OK, I guess.″

Cardinals doctors said the rotator cuff was still intact, and Gant was ready to play Monday.

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