Cheap Seats

Taveras is back in the swing of things -- and on pace to debut with St. Louis

Oscar Taveras is back in centerfield Friday night for the Memphis Redbirds, apparently suffering no lingering effects of the left ankle injury he suffered earlier this week.

The fact that Taveras is playing center -- Randall Grichuck handled most of the duties there before St. Louis' top prospect was moved there this week -- is likely a sign that the Cardinals are testing whether Taveras has recovered to the point that he can cover the most demanding outfield position.

That's significant because centerfield is where the parent club has the most obvious opening for help.

Not only are established veterans set in the corners in the form of Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. But the Cardinals seemed determined this spring to dislodge incumbent centerfielder Jon Jay from his starting job in favor of Peter Bourjos. And Bourjos so far has been a bust, struggling to get on base.

Although he's seemingly ironed out the kinks in his swing that caused him to struggle for long stretches of last season. The Birds seem unimpressed with Jay's defense. And, if they're going to have a less than ideal defender in center, they might as well have one that brings Taveras' impact bat into the equation.

Besides, If Craig continues to struggle, the Cardinals could play Jay in center and move Taveras to right on some nights.

Some have speculated that Grichuk -- or even Stephen Piscotty or Joey Butler -- might get the call before Taveras. But Piscotty and Butler are primarily corner outfielders. And Grichuk has only a couple of weeks of Class AAA baseball at-bats under his belt.

While some of the others might see the majors at some point this season, Taveras likely would have made it to the big leagues last year if he hadn't hurt his right ankle. Teams never want to promote a player too early. But by that standard, Taveras is past due.