Taveras back with Cardinals, hoping to stay

Taveras back with Cardinals, hoping to stay

SAN FRANCISCO -- The hype wasn't quite the same as it was a month ago, when top prospect Oscar Taveras arrived in St. Louis with the outside expectation that he'd provide an immediate jolt to the offense. Eleven big league games and a two-week demotion later, Taveras returned to the Cardinals' lineup Tuesday eager to stick around this time.

"I'm ready now," said Taveras, who started in right field and hit second in the team's series opener against the Giants. "I'm ready to stay here. I'm going to do everything I can do."

The Cardinals haven't lined out precisely how Taveras will fit into what will be a rotation of position players, though the organization is committed to playing him regularly. On Tuesday, that was accomplished by sitting Matt Holliday.

Taveras' first stay in the Majors was relatively nondescript. He homered in his debut but went on to hit .189/.225/.297 in 40 plate appearances. Upon returning to Triple-A Memphis, Taveras batted .292/.358/.417 with four extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 13 games.

"I think any young player who comes up is always going to wonder how it's going to play out and what it's like at the big league level," manager Mike Matheny said. "So being here and understanding the routine and getting a feel for the league, I think, is always an advantage. Just put together good at-bats, that's it. There were times he did that and didn't find spots. If he keeps putting good at-bats together, he'll find holes. He just needs to keep doing what he's been doing."

Taveras said he can improve, too, by showing more patience at the plate this time around. He added that he is ready to play any of the three outfield positions. While the Cardinals prefer Taveras play in a corner outfield spot, the club is not ruling out using him in center field if the circumstance is right.

"I went back down to Triple-A and did a great job there doing [what I needed to]," said Taveras, ranked No. 2 overall on MLB.com's Prospect Watch. "Now they have given me another opportunity to stay here in the big leagues again. I'm more prepared now. I'm feeling more ready this time than last time."

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.