With RF unsettled, Cards think Taveras can step up

Grichuk, Piscotty other options for St. Louis in right field

With RF unsettled, Cards think Taveras can step up

ST. LOUIS -- The only truly unsettled spot as the Cardinals begin to project their eight starting position players for next spring is right field, though it is also a position that the organization believes can be filled internally.

The Cardinals will consider Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty for that right-field job, with 2014 performance, completion of offseason goals and Spring Training all factoring into the decision. Piscotty is the only one of the three not to have cracked the Major League roster this season.

Grichuk was the team's starting right fielder throughout the postseason, though the end-of-the-season roles were not an indication that the Cardinals have soured on Taveras' ability or potential to have a long-term impact. The organization's consensus top prospect heading into 2014, Taveras endured a season laced with adversity. He struggled when given everyday playing time and was exposed defensively after lagging with his conditioning work.

And yet …

"I think he can be a star, and I think he showed things all season long that showed that," manager Mike Matheny said on Monday. "You see some things there offensively that absolutely excite you. … I think part of that process is that he's never been pushed and never naturally had that passion for the defensive side of the game. He's never had that passion for the baserunning and some of the minor details, which are things that he's now seen guys in that clubhouse who have been around here for a long time, it's all. It's all or nothing. I think that's part of his maturing."

Both general manager John Mozeliak and Matheny sat down with Taveras at the end of the season to outline their suggestions for an offseason plan. Mozeliak said the organization would like to have Taveras spend November at the Cardinals' Florida complex in Jupiter, after which Taveras will return to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball for about three weeks. He will then go back to Jupiter by January and remain there until the start of Spring Training.

Though the Cardinals seem to have substantial depth in the outfield going into 2015, Mozeliak said he does not expect to deal from this area of strength. The Cardinals like having several right-field options since there is uncertainty as to whether any of the three young outfielders will seize the opportunity to be an everyday player right away next spring. That is especially true of Taveras.

"I think he now understands the ownership he needs to take moving forward," Mozeliak said of Taveras. "[The] game is pretty simple. You either do or you don't. When we get to Jupiter next year, we're going to know what he did, and we'll know if we can count on him or not. This offseason we're going to make the bet we can. But that's the only uncertainty moving forward."

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.