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Win or lose, Cardinals' Rhodes gets World Series ring

By Steve Ginsburg

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Whether the St. Louis Cardinals or Texas Rangers win the World Series, Arthur Rhodes is in the unique position of knowing he will receive a championship ring.

The crafty, 41-year-old relief pitcher was released by the Rangers in August but quickly snatched up by the Cardinals for the stretch drive.

While many older players would have called it a career after getting cut during the year, Rhodes knew he still had some gas in the tank.

"When they let me go, I didn't think my career was over," Rhodes, whose first big-league gig was with the Baltimore Orioles in 1991, told reporters on Thursday. "I knew there were some teams I could have signed with.

"Then I decided to sign with St. Louis, and look where we're at now. We're in the World Series. And I'm just going to help this team win the World Series."

Rhodes made his first All-Star appearance at the age of 40 in 2010 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. The Texas-born left-hander has played for nine Major League Baseball teams in his career but never reached the Fall Classic until this year.

"It's a real feel good story for a lot of us because we competed against him so many years, and several times our organization talked about adding him in," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"It just never worked and you'd see him go someplace else and you know his reputation, so you finally got him on your team. What a pro. I didn't know when we got him that he hadn't been to the World Series.

"That really has added to the enjoyment of this postseason push."

Rhodes played in 19 games for St. Louis and was a key reason the Cardinals were able to erase a 10-1/2 game deficit over the final month and reach the postseason.

He has been flawless in the playoffs and was one of five relievers that preserved the Cardinals' 3-2 victory in the World Series opener.

Rhodes said playing in the Fall Classic was a thrill.

"I took it in when the national anthem was going on," he said. "And once I went in the game, it started to hit me more. That's why I threw two straight balls to Josh Hamilton instead of throwing strikes.

"But after the first couple pitches, then I settled down, and it was all over."

Although Rhodes will finally get his championship ring, he makes no secret of where his allegiance lies.

"I'd rather get a ring with St. Louis," he said. "I'd get a ring with Texas, too, but I'd love to get one with St. Louis. And I'd love to sign with them again."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)