ST. LOUIS -- What remains to be seen is which strain will be worse, the one in Marco Scutaro's left hip or the one between the Giants and the Cardinals as a result of the play that injured the San Francisco second baseman.
Scutaro hopes to play Wednesday in Game 3 of a National League Championship Series that took a bitter turn Monday night with a disputed slide into second -- or more precisely, into Scutaro -- by the Cardinals' Matt Holliday in Game 2. Holliday admitted he should have begun his slide a little earlier, and, for the record, the Giants said Tuesday that they have put the episode behind them.
"It was yesterday, so I don't know how it would carry over," said Matt Cain, who will start Game 3 for the Giants this afternoon in a series tied at 1.
Reality and history, though, say that episodes like that never really are forgotten. Holliday's slide, which preceded a big hit and an early departure by Scutaro, immediately brought recollections of a 1988 game between these teams in which the Giants' Will Clark ignited a brawl by a takeout of Cardinals shortstop Jose Oquendo.
"It was probably the same, if you want to know the honest God's truth," Clark said at AT&T Park Monday, where he still works for the Giants (Oquendo is a longtime Cardinals coach). "I knew I was going to get drilled sooner or later."
Also, the memories still are raw from a bench-clearing incident in the 2002 NLCS between these teams. Cardinals pitcher Mike Crudale buzzed Kenny Lofton for having showboated on a home run trot.
"That was a long time ago," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who was the team's catcher back then and was right in the middle of the fracas. "You know, we play this game with intensity. We play this game with passion. And if we didn't, I wouldn't expect anybody to show up or watch.
"You hate to see anybody get hurt right now."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, having announced that an MRI revealed a strain and bruise in Scutaro's hip, did not back down Tuesday from his assertion of the night before that it was an illegal slide. "I don't think there was intent, to be honest, hurting somebody. But it was late," Bochy said.
"You want the guys to play hard. That's what you do. You play the game hard. You play it right. You just hope that when the guys are playing hard that it's within the rules."
Scutaro, the former Met who provided spark (.362 in 61 games) for the Giants after his July 27 trade from the Rockies, was told by the trainers not to work out with the club at Busch Stadium Tuesday night, but he did anyway. He said he expects to play Wednesday. And he still thinks it was a late slide.
When someone asked what he would do if Holliday approaches him before the game Wednesday, Scutaro said, "I might kick his ----.'' Even he joined the laughter that followed.
"He's a great guy. I don't think he tried to hurt me. He was just trying to play real hard. He just slid a little late, that's all," the infielder said. "I'm just happy nothing bad happened."
Still, does he want Giants pitchers to retaliate?
"Yeah," he said, "I want them to throw a shutout for nine innings."
Bochy said, "That's over. You have to move on."
Of course, that's what they always say.