Taveras seeing playing time shrink with Cardinals

Outfielder struggling offensively while others deliver production

Taveras seeing playing time shrink with Cardinals

MILWAUKEE -- Oscar Taveras had his everyday chance in August when he was tapped as the Cardinals' starting right fielder upon Allen Craig's Trade Deadline departure. But Taveras' inability to capitalize on the regular at-bats has dropped him back into a rotation of four outfielders filling two spots.

Taveras was out of the lineup again on Thursday for a third consecutive day as manager Mike Matheny opted to give Peter Bourjos his third straight start. With Bourjos providing recent production, Randal Grichuk offering a boost upon his recent call-up and Jon Jay continuing to be one of the team's best hitters, playing time for Taveras could continue to shrink.

"I think Mike's strategy is going to be going with hot hands, and at this point, that's exactly as I would be thinking about it as well," general manager John Mozeliak said. "So as far as opportunity, it just depends on how other people play."

The Cardinals had hoped that Taveras would take off in August with the increased playing time and growing familiarity with Major League pitching. He did hit safely in seven straight games after the Craig trade, but then stalled. In 26 games (24 starts) last month, Taveras hit .244/.292/.289 with four doubles, no homers and eight RBIs.

In comparison, Grichuk is 8-for-21 since being recalled in late August, Bourjos had four hits -- including the game-winner on Wednesday -- in back-to-back starts against the Pirates, and Jay, with his .316 average, would be leading the National League race for the batting title if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Taveras even watched Matheny pull him from a pinch-hit opportunity on Wednesday when the Pirates made a pitching change. Matheny sent Grichuk up against a lefty reliever in Taveras' place.

"It's a lot like the conversation I had with him yesterday pulling him off," Matheny explained. "I'm telling him, 'You need to get locked in and keep working because you're going to be a big part of this. As we go forward, it's going to be fun. Just keep working.' [It's the] exact same message I gave Peter Bourjos [earlier in the season].

"The same [frustration] has to be going through Oscar's mind. He's probably not happy. I get that. He shouldn't be. He should be looking for opportunities, and understanding that we're looking for him to maximize them."

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.