JUPITER, Fla -- The Washington Nationals are in town for the first of a home-road tilt which will see the Cardinals head to Viera tomorrow. In it, top prospect Oscar Taveras, fresh off a 1-3 day in his Grapefruit League debut yesterday in Port St. Lucie, will be in the starting lineup once again.
The 21-year old bats 9th and will serve as the designated hitter this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. The rest of the lineup, well, has a little bit of a regular season feel.
1) Matt Carpenter - 3B
2) Jhonny Peralta - SS
3) Matt Holliday - LF
4) Allen Craig - RF
5) Yadier Molina - C
6) Matt Adams - 1B
7) Mark Ellis - 2B
8) Jon Jay - CF
9) Oscar Taveras - DH
Michael Wacha will make his second start of spring training and be followed by a group consisting of Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, Sam Freeman, Tyler Lyons, Angel Castro, Boone Whiting and Kurt Heyer.
-- As noted, the top eight names in the starting lineup look awfully close to what manager Mike Matheny could trot out there Opening Day March 31st. At the very least, the top six should be exactly what you see in the regular season. With Peter Bourjos currently out with a hamstring injury, Jon Jay figures to get the most time in center field. Second base could be a rotating position between the young and emerging Kolten Wong and the proven veteran in Mark Ellis.
-- Trevor Rosenthal getting listed as available to throw today is fairly big news. He cut short a live bullpen session over a week ago because of pain in his upper leg and groin area. That forced the Cardinals to hold their closer out of game action until they felt he was 100 percent ready to go. Rosenthal has thrown a couple live bullpens since then and, allegedly, came out of them strong. He'll get in the game today.
-- Oscar Taveras has a major chance to make an impression here. The Cardinals said all spring training up to this point they were not going to put him in a game until he was totally healthy. They did that yesterday and he responded with a hit on the second pitch he saw. Mike Matheny said they're not going back-to-back with too many guys now but here he is doing that with Taveras. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact yesterday was a split-squad and virtually everyone played. But yesterday was Taveras' first game in about eight months and I believe it's fairly significant they're putting him back in the lineup so soon after. As of now, he's likely headed to AAA. But if he hits a lot over the next three weeks that could be subject to change.