Cardinals set to recall Taveras from Triple-A

News-DemocratJune 30, 2014 

St. Louis Cardinals' Oscar Taveras watches his solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 31, 2014, in St. Louis. The home run came during Taveras' second career at-bat in his major league debut. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

JEFF ROBERSON — AP

The St. Louis Cardinals will recall prized outfielder Oscar Taveras from Class AAA Memphis in time for the team's Tuesday night game in San Francisco, club officials announced Monday.

Taveras, regarded as the organization's top minor-league prospect, was hitting .318 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs in 62 games at Memphis.

He was brought up at the end of May before the Cardinals traveled to play in American League cities. In the 11-game stint in the majors he had a few weeks ago, Taveras hit .189 with a homer and two RBIs.

To make room for Taveras on the 25-man roster, the Cardinals optioned right-handed reliever Jorge Rondon to Memphis on Monday. Rondon made his major-league debut Sunday, walking one in a scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Taveras can play both corner outfield positions and he has appeared in center field in the minor leagues.

The decision to callup the 22-year-old outfielder was not a reactionary move, manager Mike Matheny said, but rather one the Cardinals had been calculating since sending Taveras to the Minors on June 13. With the shift back to carrying 13 position players and 12 pitchers, the Cardinals believed the timing was now right.

"I don't want to pass two messages. One, that we never were in a state of urgency because we have been since Opening Day. And secondly, I don't want it to come across that we've lost patience with anybody," Matheny said to MLB. "I still see us having a group of guys with the potential to throw up some huge offensive numbers in consistent spurts. I guess the message here is: How can we improve our offense? And part of that is taking a known quantity we have in the Minor League level and seeing if we can somehow maximize him and use him with what we already have to make us even better."

Matheny was also clear that the plan is not to bring Taveras up as a replacement, but rather as a complement. He'll get regular playing time, but not necessarily an immediate everyday job. Taveras' fit as a corner outfielder will allow the Cardinals to spell time for Matt Adams, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.

"We're trying to generate some offense," Matheny said. "I don't think this is going to be exactly like we saw before when we had him up where it was, 'Here you go, you're going to be in there every day.' But we're going to have to find some considerable time for him."

Matheny also did not rule out giving Taveras some time in center, a position the organization was previously reluctant to thrust him into. But the Cardinals will be selective in such opportunities, considering Taveras as a center-field option when other elements -- playing behind a ground-ball-style pitcher, playing in certain ballparks -- match up.

In his previous stint with the Cardinals, Taveras started in right field for 10 of the 11 games. Most of those starts came during interleague play.

Taveras had a big memorable debut. Taveras, who hits left-handed, belted a home run in his first game May 31 against San Francisco at Busch Stadium.

In the 11 games, Taveras had seven hits in 37 at-bats. He struck out seven times. Taveras drew two walks.

The Cardinals play a three-game set Tuesday in San Francisco. The Cards then will face Miami on Friday to open a seven-game homestand against the Marlins and Pittsburgh Piraes.

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