St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't have left-handed hitting Oscar Taveras in his lineup to face San Diego Padres southpaw Eric Stults on Thursday night.
Though Matheny had reasons for the omission of Taveras (among others), benching the young outfielder may have been more than just being the odd-man out on the card. The manager said pre-game, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that Taveras "has a lot to learn."
"He's got a lot of things he needs to improve on in every aspect of his game."
And not only at the plate. As Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch notes, his baserunning and hustle is also lacking as of late. Matheny said "the aggressiveness wasn't there."
On Wednesday, Taveras, running from first with two out on a sixth-inning double by Jay, first watched the right fielder and then made a poor turn at second and didn’t pick up much speed going to third, where coach Jose Oquendo had to stop him, even with pitcher Justin Masterson coming up next.
Masterson rescued this failing by singling to score Taveras but in a subsequent at-bat, Taveras didn’t get to first quickly enough for Matheny after being frustrated at grounding to first base with two runners on and the rookie nearly was doubled up.
The manager noted he understood Taveras's frustration to some extent, but every turn on the bases means a lot for the Cardinals.
"He’s got people around here that are willing to teach if he’ll be accessible in thinking about the game," Matheny said. "He could view it as a day off or he could view it as an opportunity to get better, just like every other one of our guys ...
“Our job is to try and continue to teach. And sometimes, there are tough lessons. He gets it. But getting it and applying it ... those are steps.”
In 45 games this season, the 22-year-old is hitting .206/.247/.284.