ST. LOUIS — John Mozeliak apparently has been convinced that the Cardinals need Oscar Taveras right now.
Through much of the first half, Mozeliak said he wanted to wait and see if the team’s veteran hitters would pick up their offense before he made any kind of roster shakeup. While there have been flashes of improved production, a four-game series against the Dodgers during which the Cardinals totaled four runs looks like it was enough for the GM to call for help.
Here comes Taveras for the second time. While there is no injury to open at-bats for him this time, chances are good that Mike Matheny will find a way to get him in the lineup. Taveras might not play every day, but he could take on a role similar to what Matt Adams had last year when he filled in regularly for Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig.
The club has talked about trying Taveras in center field but he has played there little this season and not at all since his 11-game call-up last month. Taveras was called up then because Adams went on the disabled list with a calf strain but Taveras stayed up only two weeks. He hit only .189 (7 for 37) but impressed the staff with an approach that appeared ready to handle big-league pitching.
Manager Mike Matheny said that Taveras did not appear overmatched in any of his at-bats but added, "When he’s right, there’s another gear that we haven’t seen since he’s been up here. That’s not an effort-level gear, it’s just a level of locked in. When that hits, it’s truly impressive."
Since returning to Memphis, Taveras has hit .292 with one homer and nine RBI in 13 games. For his season at Class AAA, he was hitting .318/.370/.502 in 62 games.
To make room for Taveras, the Cardinals returned right-handed reliever Bruce Rondon to Memphis. They now are back to listing 13 position players and 12 pitchers on the roster.