Feb. 15: Q of the Day
Oscar Taveras likely will start the season with Triple-A Memphis. If any of the three starting outfielders goes down for a prolonged period — say two weeks or more — do you think Taveras will fill in until the injured player returns?
— Larry H., Springfield, Ill.
Even if a Cardinals outfielder is hit with a serious injury this spring, it’s hard to envision the Cardinals pushing Taveras into the Majors to begin the season. The organization sees substantial benefit in allowing the 20-year-old Taveras to further polish his game in the Minors, and a quicker-than-projected track to the Majors could stunt some of that growth.
If one of the Cardinals’ corner outfielders were to get hurt this spring, the Cardinals would likely shift Matt Carpenter or Allen Craig to fill in at that spot. The other would play first base. If Jon Jay were to be sidelined, the Cardinals could slide Carlos Beltran over or fill in with Shane Robinson or Adron Chambers.
Now, if the timeframe in this scenario were to change — i.e. an injury occurs in June — then Taveras likely becomes a very real possibility. A little time in Triple-A (a level he has yet to be challenged at) could be enough for him to bring his defense and baserunning up to a level where the Cardinals would be comfortable thrusting him into an everyday role in the Majors. His bat is seemingly already Major League-ready. As evidenced in his statistics from 2012, there are few holes on that offensive end.
Taveras does, of course, have an opportunity to change minds — or at least challenge the organization’s current projection — this spring. He is participating in Major League camp for the first time.
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