ST. LOUIS (AP) - Cardinals infielder Scott Spiezio was activated from the restricted list on Friday, about five weeks after leaving the team to undergo treatment for substance abuse.
Spiezio said he received daily treatment on an outpatient basis. The rehabilitation process began on Aug. 10, the day after the Cardinals removed him from the active roster.
``I was out of control for a while,'' Spiezio said. ``I learned a lot and I'm ready to start contributing in a good way now.''
Spiezio, who turns 35 next week, was plugged into the lineup at third base and batted sixth against Chicago. Eckstein was dealing with back soreness, so manager Tony La Russa rewrote the lineup card a little more than an hour before the game.
Spiezio missed the Cardinals' climb into contention during his 33-game absence and their subsequent fall. St. Louis was only one game back in the NL Central a week ago before an 0-7 trip, the franchise's worst since 1972. The Cardinals began Friday five games behind the division-leading Cubs.
He returned subdued in both mood and look, having shaved off his distinctive red goatee. Spiezio was a fan favorite during the team's World Series run in 2006, with fans mimicking the look with press-on beards.
Spiezio said he'd been struggling with substance abuse for six or seven months, although he wouldn't disclose the drug, saying ``I'll save that for the book.''
``It's a fresh start, a new beginning,'' Spiezio said.
Spiezio said he considered disclosing the nature of his dependency but decided against it after consultation. He said other physical ailments that have sidelined him at times this year had nothing to do with his problem.
``I think the best thing to do is keep that private and just talk about the positives that come out of it,'' he said.
Spiezio, who was hitting .272 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 184 at-bats, came forward to the team and admitted a potential substance-abuse problem.
``I realized with the help of some of my friends around me that sometimes you're in the middle of it and you can't see straight,'' Spiezio said. ``I had people coming to me, but when you're in that situation you don't really believe anything. You think they're overreacting until you step back and get that clear view, which is not easy to do.''
As much as any teammate, Spiezio was affected by the death of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, who was legally intoxicated when he crashed into the back of a flatbed truck in April and was killed. Spiezio was too distraught to play for a few days after the accident and said the situation might have pushed him deeper into dependency.
``I dealt with it probably in the wrong way,'' Spiezio said. ``I wasn't thinking correctly back then. It was bad times.''
Spiezio started at five positions last year for the Cardinals. The treatment, he said, was much more taxing.
``It was very long, intensive days, and I was way more mentally and physically drained after those sessions than I was playing baseball,'' he said. ``My wife would laugh because I'd be ready to go to bed at 9:30 or 10 o'clock.''
Spiezio had physical woes before being derailed by substance abuse, in particular an infected finger. From June 26 to Aug. 9, when he went on the restricted list and the Cardinals filled his roster spot by recalling Rick Ankiel, Spiezio had appeared in only 11 games.
Spiezio, who plays in the heavy metal band SandFrog, has cultivated a hard-rocking image through 12 major league seasons. He said lifestyle changes are in order, although he found time to briefly appear on stage with REO Speedwagon last weekend in St. Louis.
``I was backstage talking to them and they said, 'Come up and sing a song,''' Spiezio said. ``I was nervous, but it was fun.''

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