VIERA, Fla. -- Plans to push Oscar Taveras so that he could make up for missed at-bats have now been hampered by a right hamstring issue that forced the top prospect out of the lineup on Sunday.
Taveras alerted the Cardinals to tightness in his hamstring while serving as the designated hitter in Saturday's game. He went hitless in three at-bats before being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning. Manager Mike Matheny had planned to start Taveras against the Nationals again on Sunday but instead chose to have the outfielder bus with the team to Viera and only participate in pregame batting practice.
"He measured out strength-wise fine again, but it's time to slow things down again unfortunately," Matheny said. "We're going to hold him back for a little while."
The setback further complicates Taveras' attempts to play his way onto the Cardinals' Opening Day roster. He sat out the first week of Grapefruit League games while finishing his recovery from ankle surgery, but was expected to play regularly upon returning last Friday.
Instead, Taveras, ranked by MLB.com as baseball's third-best prospect, now has to prove his health to the Cardinals again before getting clearance to return to the field. After doubling in his first at-bat of the spring, Taveras has gone hitless in his five at-bats since.
"Even the balls he was missing, he was just missing," Matheny said. "He has that knack and that ability to find a good part of the bat on the ball. He's rare in that regard. But we need to have him healthy to really see what he can do."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.