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Oscar Taveras does “extensive running” for first time since last summer’s ankle surgery

Feb 12, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

oscar taveras cardinals getty Getty Images

Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was limited to 46 games last season at Triple-A Memphis because of a severe right ankle injury that eventually required surgery. He was ordered to take it easy this winter so that the damage could fully heal. Now that Cardinals camp has opened in Jupiter, Florida, the hard-swinging 21-year-old is ready to be unleashed.

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Taveras did “extensive running Wednesday” for the first time since last summer’s ankle procedure and reported no physical limitations. “He’s been working hard, doing a lot of short movements, explosive movements,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “This should lead him to being ready to go.”

Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 hitter in over 1,500 career minor league plate appearances.

He could be a secret weapon this summer for an already-loaded St. Louis squad.

  1. perryt200 - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    I love how all the StL news is no controversy; just they added this guy, this guy is back, and this guy is healthy.

    I smell October.

    • plmathfoto - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      Call me crazy, but I remember a little drama about the Peralta signing, both the actual signing him at all, the money and length of contract, not to mention peds

      • perryt200 - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:18 PM

        That was created drama. Not drama out of StL. Go back and read the Holliday comments.

        StL just has the workman ethic that is going to get them to post season again without clubhouse drama.

      • mscxvd - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:16 AM

        even that didnt last real long and was handled well.

  2. gibbyfan - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    If he is as good as he should be it will be interesting to see how they fit him in………..Can’t see pulling Craig out of Right…….Adams will hopefully be holding down first…….My guess is he winds up in center

    • Drew Silva - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:20 PM

      I tend to agree. If he’s on the Opening Day roster, it’s as the primary center fielder.

      • led65 - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:33 PM

        I disagree. He will start in the minors and then platoon later this year. Unless there is an injury or he smashes his way onto the team then adams will be sitting. Adams is the weakest link. Marginal defensively and can only play first base. Plus has a ton of power but only on low pitches. Pitch him anywhere else and put the adams shift on and he isn’t a difficult out. Craig is the best clutch hitter in baseball and bourjos is amazing defensively and brings speed to the lineup. So, if Oscar makes the team out of spring training, unlikely, then craig will be at first and he will be in the OF. I hope adams will work on his mechanics and fill the holes in his swing, but if not I see him being a Cecil fielder type hitter. Defensive liability having to live off mistake pitches because anything else leaves him either as an easy out or with a harmless base hit. Hopefully he will expand his zone this year or in the near future though.

      • fearlessleader - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        Is there new information that makes you think so? (Genuine question, not snark.) The Cards have said all along that while Taveras could play center if necessary, he really projects as a corner outfielder—and that was the line on him BEFORE he had the ankle injury. I’m not sure why they’d have gotten Bourjos if they had long-term plans for Taveras in center.

        Which does indeed leave a logjam. I’d hate to see Matt Adams traded, but I’m steeling myself for the possibility.

      • fearlessleader - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        (My comment was in reply to Drew—led65 and I were typing at the same time.)

      • paperlions - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:58 PM

        Nah, when he comes up, it’ll be to play RF, pushing Craig to 1B and Adams to the Bench.

        I like both Craig and Adams, but neither are good enough to block Taveras when he is ready.

      • Drew Silva - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:12 PM

        Mozeliak has said before that Taveras can handle CF during the early part of his career. He has started 211 minor league games in CF. I don’t think an ankle injury has to be treated like a knee injury.

        You guys might be overrating Bourjos a bit. I think of him as an active fourth outfielder.

        Can definitely see the Cardinals going the conservative route and starting Taveras out at AAA Memphis, but he has it in him to rip up the Grapefruit League and force an Opening Day roster nod. If he wins a spot, he won’t be sitting on the bench.

        We’ll see.

      • fearlessleader - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:24 PM

        FYI, here’s Derrick Goold writing about Taveras a couple weeks back: “The injury robbed Taveras of needed playing time in center field, where Mozeliak wanted to see the lefthanded-hitting outfielder progress. The Cardinals’ addition of Peter Bourjos this winter and return of Jon Jay limits the need for a center fielder. Although Taveras could see time in both center and right this spring, Mozeliak has allowed that the need for Taveras to play center has diminished.”

      • okwhitefalcon - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        Drew –

        Mo was pretty adamant in his winter warm up interview(s) Taveras is viewed as a corner outfielder with no future plans of any significant time in CF – if any at all.

        As paper said, if he happens to make the team and works his way to an everyday role, he’s in RF with Craig to first and Adam’s to the bench more often than not.

        I suspect we’ll also see him LF on occasion as well.

        Lot’s of flexibility regardless, a very enviable position.

        I agree on Bourjos for the most part, a majority of the BFIB’s seem to think he’s the next Jimmy Edmonds – he’s not.

        Back to Taveras, let’s hope he’s not anywhere near the Cactus League, that would mean he’s been traded!

      • yahmule - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        The part of this equation that few people are taking into account is Bourjos can’t hit. Now, if you want to carry a sub .250 BA with no power to get that awesome glove on the field, then go for it. You’re already breaking in a second baseman who looked totally overmatched at the plate last season. And while we’re on the subject, who is going to bat second? Bourjos and his career .306 OBP? He doesn’t walk and his SB% is pedestrian.

      • cincinata - Mar 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Drew, I do not agree with you on this guy. He has all of the potential, and is great in the minors, but he is not a star yet. I followed him a little at the end of last year. I was not impressed, but everyone else loves the guy. He will not be the starting CF here on opening day, I will bet on that. We all hear a lot of great things about him. but lets see how he plays in the bigs before giving him a crown.

  3. Tim's Neighbor - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Worst kept secret ever.

  4. gibbyfan - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    I think some guys might be overrating Bourjous a lot. I’m not totally convined he will even keep Jay on the bench let alone Taveras…………but for sure if they have years like they did last year –no way Adams or Craig are going to sit, so if taveras cracks the lineup it has to be center………..and as you aptly say Drew…..we’ll see soon enough.

    • paperlions - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:45 AM

      I think you are under rating the importance of defense “by a lot” and have not noticed the theme in all of the moves this year. Everything they have done has been to get more athletic and better on defense.

      Last year the Cardinals OF defense was horrible. Only Choo kept Jay from being the worst defensive CF in the league, Beltran was horrible in RF and Holliday is solidly well below average in RF. Add in the horrible corner IF defense, and the only positions at which they were average or better were SS (only when Kozma was playing), 2B (only when Carpenter was there), and catcher.

      The lack of athleticism on last years team gave away a LOT of runs on defense and on the bases. Moving Freese for Boujos should significantly upgrade defense at 3 positions…Bourjos is such a good defender, that the Angels move Trout to LF because of him and no one complained about it. Jay has very limited upside because his only real plus tool is his OBP, and that really leans on BABIP. Bourjos is so good in the field, that he doesn’t have to hit that well to be more valuable than Jay.

      Jay and Bourjos don’t hit well enough to play in a corner spot. Craig is going to be a horrible RFer, probably not as bad as Beltran was last year, but bad. Preventing runs is just as important as scoring them…besides having far more potential with the bat than Craig or Adams, Taveras will be far more useful in the field

      • gibbyfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        Arguably their biggest move was signing Peralta which did not improve their defense –of course it improved their offense but to your point it wekened defense at arguably the most important position on the field so not sure there was a theme there. I’m sure there are statistical metrics to back your asssertions about defense but that was the team that got to the WS, one game short of 3 years running so somehow something was working.
        Actually, to my eye Holiday seemed to be the biggest liability out there. I agree Craig is going to be horrible but my point is if they have to find a place for taveras and Craig and Adams are hitting like last year—either ther is going to be a trade or PB is going to the bench………..So that’s how I see it and we will soon see

      • spudchukar - Feb 13, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Versatility fellas’. Some days it is Bourjos in center, some days Jay, occasionally Taveras. One day vs. lefties, Adams sits, and vs. tough righties, even Holliday can sit. No sense insisting he plays everyday. A day off a week would be great.

        Bourjos is every bit as good a defender as Edmonds. And if 2011 is any indication, he can handle the stick too. A bigger question is what to do with Robinson. He is the odd man out. Personally, I would like to see him get some work at third base, and be able to give Carpenter a day off occasionally vs tough lefties.

        However, a bench of Taveras, Robinson, Jay, Descalso, Ellis and Kozma is one too many. Maybe Kozma starts the season in AAA, using Descalso as the emergency SS. But I was hoping Peralta could sit when the Red Birds enjoy leads in the later innings, and that only works if Kozma is the replacement.

      • paperlions - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Yeah, sucks to have so much depth that you worry about where the organizations most promising position prospect in a decade might play. Oh, woe is us!

      • spudchukar - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        A lot more answers than questions.

      • yahmule - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

        2011 isn’t an indication of Bourjos handling the stick. It was an outlier fueled by a .338 BABIP. He makes poor contact, his line drive rate is feeble and he doesn’t take walks. I think the bottom of the order will be pretty scary if Wong doesn’t show marked improvement. He was getting the bat knocked out of his hands last year.

      • yahmule - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:58 PM

        And he is better defensively than Jim Edmonds. The criticism of Jimmy playing to the cameras was 100% valid.

  5. tn16 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Good old Canadian kid

  6. Tom63010 - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    Of all the things that the Cardinal’s organization does right how they address injuries is a weakness. Many a player has tried to nurse an injury only to require surgery later losing valuable playing time. Perhaps the only player that has successfully avoided surgery was Ozzie Smith and that was a long long time ago.

  7. stlouis1baseball - Feb 13, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    There seemingly team wide depth (followed by who plays where and when) is a wonderful problem to have. As Spud said…versatility. OF, Pitching, and to a lesser degree Infield…it’s nice.

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