Oscar Taveras is hitting and Mike Matheny is happy

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Oscar Taveras is playing and playing well lately, easing Cardinals fans’ concerns about manager Mike Matheny frequently benching the 22-year-old rookie for lesser talents, and now Matheny is full of praise for the work Taveras has put in to get better.

Matheny told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Taveras has made “huge adjustments” since a slow start to his MLB career, adding:

He’s really worked hard in the cage with [hitting coaches John Mabry and David Bell] on his approach and shortening his swing a bit. Even his outs were pretty loud. He’s definitely taking steps in the right direction.

It’s too small of a sample size to get truly excited yet, but Taveras is in a 9-for-22 stretch right now and has hit a combined .280 with just 13 strikeouts in his last 100 plate appearances. And perhaps most importantly Matheny is playing him and saying positive things about him, which is a big change from just a couple weeks ago.

Taveras was a consensus top-10 prospect coming into each of the past two seasons and the Cardinals’ front office cleared the way for him to take over as an everyday player–and future middle-of-the-lineup force–by trading Allen Craig to the Red Sox.

Carlos Carrasco pitches during game action

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Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this summer. He’d been out since June. Despite that diagnosis, he and the Indians insisted that he would make every effort to come back this year. Yesterday he took a big step in that direction, making his first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron.

He only tossed one inning, walking one batter and striking out another. He thew 16 pitches but cranked it up to 97 with his first offering. Not too shabby.

It’s unclear what the timetable is for him returning to Cleveland. If they intend to use him as a starter again he’ll obviously need several more appearances to get stretched out. If he’s to be used as a reliever, fewer obviously. What his stamina level is and will be is also an open question.

However that gets sorted out, it’s good so have him back in action.