Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was limited to 46 games last season at Triple-A Memphis because of a severe right ankle injury that eventually required surgery. He was ordered to take it easy this winter so that the damage could fully heal. Now that Cardinals camp has opened in Jupiter, Florida, the hard-swinging 21-year-old is ready to be unleashed.
Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Taveras did “extensive running Wednesday” for the first time since last summer’s ankle procedure and reported no physical limitations. “He’s been working hard, doing a lot of short movements, explosive movements,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “This should lead him to being ready to go.”
Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 hitter in over 1,500 career minor league plate appearances.
He could be a secret weapon this summer for an already-loaded St. Louis squad.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.