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Oscar Taveras feels “100 percent”

Jan 19, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

oscar taveras getty Getty Images

Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was supposed to arrive in the major leagues by the middle of the 2013 season, but he suffered a severe high right ankle sprain last May and eventually needed surgery to repair the damage. He wound up appearing in just 46 games for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and was shut down for good in August.

Now, of course, the focus shifts to the 2014 campaign. And the 21-year-old hard-swinging Dominican is hoping that this will finally be his breakthrough summer. Taveras spoke Saturday to fans and media at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warmup in downtown St. Louis. Via’s Jenifer Langosch:

“With the work that I’ve done this week and what I’ve done at home with the trainer, I feel 100 percent,” Taveras said through interpreter Marissa Diaz, a member of the Cardinals’ community-relations department. “In spring training, I hope to get stronger and be back with the team. … I’ve been working really hard with my ankle. Physically, I feel prepared. I feel good. Last year was off because of the ankle. I felt bad because I wasn’t on the team. But I was watching the team, watching my friends play hard. That got my spirits up to work hard this year. If God has it, I will be on the team this year in 2014.”

Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 career hitter in over 1,500 minor league plate appearances. With experience at all three outfield spots, he’ll be in consideration for an Opening Day roster spot this spring in Cardinals camp.

  1. albertmn - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    He may have his work cut out for him. The assumption is that Craig will move to RF with Adams at 1st. Holliday will be back in LF. That leaves Bourjos, Jay, and Taveras possibly fighting for only two spots depending on the number of bench OFs kept on the team. He likely needs a good Spring Training to open with the big club.

    • Patrick R. - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      There’s no way Craig starts in RF after injury concerns. I think Adams becomes a key bench bat. I don’t foresee too much of a problem. They now have incredible depth to work with, which we all saw was their weakness in the World Series.

      • forsch31 - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        The Cardinals have already penciled in Craig in right. His injury last year was caused by an awkward fall that happened when trying to avoid an umpire while running on the basepaths, and his previous injury (cracked kneecap) was caused by slamming into a metal post in right field that’s now been covered with padding. His injuries were fluke injuries that were unavoidable, and keeping at first base to “protect” him isn’t going to do anything other than keep the Cardinals’ best power bat on the bench.

        Matt Adams needs to start. The man hit 17 home runs in just over 300 plate appearances last season, and throughout his professional career, he’s always hit for power. The Cardinals need to see what he can do with regular playing time.

        Taveras is coming off an injury, and hasn’t been cleared to run yet, despite this story. He could force his way into the lineup like Jamie Garcia did a few years ago, but the Cardinals’ preference would be to have him start in Memphis to make sure he’s up to game speed and come up during the season.

  2. leylandshospicenurse - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    I would probably dangle Holliday to teams like the Mariners to see what they might be willing to give up. Or let the kid play in AAA then mid season see about moving Borjous, Holliday, or Adams to make room. For a team with such a deep system, they are set up perfectly for an even stronger one. Amazing really

    • spudchukar - Jan 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      Very unlikely the Cards would move Bourjos, Holliday or Adams. The AAA start seems most probable to me, then in June perhaps bring him up. My guess is that Jay goes if Taveras joins the big club to stay, and Robinson is kept to be the 4th outfielder. St. Louis would go with a rotation of Taveras/Bourjos/Craig/Adams/Holliday.

    • cohnjusack - Jan 19, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Why? The guy had a 144 OPS+ last year, the Cardinals are well set at every position including having an extremely deep pitching staff and they aren’t hurting to clear payroll space. Why would you trade your best hitter?!?!

  3. ozzies85dinger - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Cards need Holliday & Craig for their power but AC is best at 1B. They can upgrade their defense with Bourjos in CF. That would leave RF for Taveras or Jay. Adams, Robinson and Ellis/Wong could provide bats for PH or DH.

  4. missingdiz - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Obviously, it’s too early to tell–that’s what spring training is for. But I think Adams is going to be too good to ride the bench. Taveras has played center some in the minors–that’s his best opportunity. The Cards are rolling in money, so there’s no reason to unload Holliday. His consistent hitting more than makes up for his mediocre fielding.

    • okwhitefalcon - Jan 19, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      Mo debunked any “Taveras is CF” notions this weekend at the Winter Warm Up.

      His future is on the flank.

      Holliday’s not going anywhere. Full no trade, great production on a very manageable contract.

      The Cards are deep with flexibility out the wazoo, they have in house answers to almost any “what if” question that could arise and plenty of assets (both $ and player wise) to go outside of the organization if necessary.

      • gibbyfan - Jan 19, 2014 at 8:18 PM

        They really do have a lot of depth and flexibility—just wish they had passed on throwing all that money away on perralta—I feel certain that ss situation would have soon presented itself with all they have to trade. Now theya re stuck witht his guy until 2018

      • okwhitefalcon - Jan 19, 2014 at 8:54 PM

        I have no problem with the Peralta signing (yet) – way too early to deem it a throwaway of $$ or a stuck with situation.

        Mo acted swiftly to fill a gaping hole, they couldn’t wait for a situation to present itself – going into the season with Koz and Descalso wasn’t going to happen.

        Granted, he’s probably not going to be playing SS in year 4 (maybe even 3 or 2 for that matter) but the signing bought (literally) a massive short term upgrade that will also buy time to find a more long term option by whatever means available.

      • spudchukar - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:51 PM

        Trade him for Lindor.

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