Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was supposed to make his major league debut last summer, but he suffered a high right ankle sprain in May and then underwent surgery in August for what became a serious, lingering lower leg injury. Taveras wound up appearing in just 47 games in 2013 -- 46 of them at Triple-A Memphis and the other on a failed rehab attempt with the Cardinals’ affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.
It was a lost year. And now his 2014 is off to an ominous start.
Taveras is still in the process of rebuilding the strength and stability of his right ankle this spring in Cardinals camp and he began experiencing right hamstring discomfort early this week after taking three at-bats in Saturday’s Grapefruit League game against the Nationals.
“It’s not possible without him being healthy,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch on Tuesday when asked whether Taveras is still in the running for an Opening Day roster spot. “He needed to come in and have everything go right in order for that to be a possibility. It’s definitely something that’s holding him up. We kept saying that we needed to see him healthy before we could make any determination. We say the same thing right now. We just thought we had crossed that hurdle and hopefully were where we could just watch him play on a consistent basis. Now we’re held up again.”
Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 career hitter in the minor leagues and should have many exciting years ahead as a big-league regular. But the hard-swinging 21-year-old is doubtful to be an early-season factor for the Cardinals or fantasy owners in 2014. His current Yahoo! average draft position (ADP) of 248.9 is probably too high.
This situation does work in the favor of Peter Bourjos, who appears to be over his early-March leg problems and should be the starting center fielder as the 2014 regular season opens for St. Louis. He told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in January that he wants to steal 40-plus bases in his first year wearing the birds on the bat.
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Santana To Sign “Within The Next Day Or Two”
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun provided some good news for all of you impatient types on Tuesday night, reporting on Twitter that free agent starter Ervin Santana is “likely to make a decision on his destination within the next day or two" so that he can get into a camp and begin preparing himself for the beginning of the 2014 regular season.
Santana opened the offseason with an asking price north of $100 million, but his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation and that torched whatever sort of market he would have had otherwise. The 31-year-old right-hander is now likely to settle for a one-year deal to reestablish his value, and the three finalists appear to be Baltimore, Toronto, and Atlanta. If you’ve already grabbed Santana in a fantasy draft you should be rooting for the Braves. They’ll provide the best potential for wins of the three teams and they play their home games in a much-friendlier park for pitchers than the Orioles or Blue Jays.
Santana finished 9-10 with a stellar 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 161 strikeouts in 211 innings last season for the Royals.
Hamilton Still Having Trouble With Calf
Josh Hamilton was a massive disappointment last season for the Angels, who signed him to a five-year, $125 million free agent contract and then watched him post a career-low .739 OPS in 151 games. The hope is that he’ll be able to bounce back in a big way in his second year of that deal, but this spring has not yet provided any reason for optimism.
Hamilton strained his left calf in late February and is still not close to making his Cactus League debut as the calendar moves toward mid-March. Angels manager Mike Scioscia told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register on Tuesday that the 32-year-old outfielder has already been ruled out of Cactus League action for the rest of this week. Scioscia wouldn’t admit it, but a season-opening stint on the 15-day disabled list might soon be inevitable.
The Angels owe Hamilton a $17 million salary in 2014, $25 million in 2015, and $32 million in both 2016 and 2017. Yikes.
Moustakas Up To His Usual Spring Tricks
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks, giving him a .435/.536/.913 batting line with three total homers and 12 total RBI through just 23 at-bats this spring. Could it be a sign that the former top prospect is headed for a regular-season breakout? Or is this just another tease?
Moustakas is a .316/.381/.561 career hitter in 78 spring games, but he is a .244/.296/.385 career hitter in 374 regular-season games. The larger sample size rules in this case.
Moustakas, 25, remains the 22nd-ranked third baseman in the 2014 Rotoworld Draft Guide. We’re not buying in this time.
For all the latest spring training news and notes, keep an eye on Rotoworld's player news page. You might also want to follow @Rotoworld_BB and this article's author, @drewsilv, on Twitter. Prepping for a fantasy draft? Check out the 2014 Rotoworld Online Draft Guide. It's loaded with all sorts of helpful stuff for fantasy owners, including projections, tiers, cheat sheets, closer reports, mock drafts, ADP data, and much, much more.