SAN FRANCISCO -- Any earlier hesitancy by the Cardinals to play top prospect Oscar Taveras in center field has, at least for the time being, disappeared along with the offense.
It's that recent absence of offense, manager Mike Matheny said, that prompted him to start Taveras in center on Wednesday in a ballpark that Matheny had previously said wasn't ideally suited to for a non-centerfielder. The fact that the Cardinals were entering the game on a 24-inning scoreless streak made that inconsequential.
"Our need for offense supersedes our concern about defending center field," Matheny said. "Hopefully we can get something going. It's no secret that we're having a hard time getting our offense rolling. Getting somebody in there might make a difference."
Taveras played right field in each of his first 13 big league games but has plenty of center-field experience in the Minors. He played 228 games at the position over six Minor League seasons, including 17 times for Triple-A Memphis this year.
"I feel comfortable at any position," Taveras said. "It doesn't matter."
While the Cardinals put the 22-year-old outfielder between Matt Holliday and Allen Craig on Wednesday, the expectation is still that the majority of Taveras' playing time in the immediate future will come in one of the two corner spots.
"It really comes down to we need to get something going," Matheny said. "We need to score some runs. Even for [Wednesday's starter Adam Wainwright], he needs a couple. It's been frustrating for all of us figuring out what we need to do to get it going."
Cards wrap up spending on Draft picks
SAN FRANCISCO -- Though 16 days remain to sign players taken in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, the Cardinals have already wrapped up most of their spending. And for the third straight season, the organization has exceeded its allotted pool of bonus money, but not so much so that it will cost the club future picks.
Cardinals 2014 Draft picks
|1||Luke Weaver||$1,843,000 (slot)|
|1||Jack Flaherty||$2,000,000 (+$349,600)|
|2||Ronnie Williams||$833,900 (slot)|
|2||Andrew Morales||$546,100 (-$250,000)|
|4||Austin Gomber||$374,100 (slot)|
|5||Darren Seferina||$200,000 (-$80,100)|
|6||Andrew Sohn||$209,700 (slot)|
|7||Brian O'Keefe||$150,00 (-$13,200)|
|8||Nick Thompson||$135,000 (-$17,400)|
|9||Daniel Poncedeleon||$5,000 (-$137,300)|
|10||Danny Diekroeger||$5,000 (-$132,700)|
|29||Bryan Dobzanski||$700,000 (+$600,000)|
As of Wednesday, the Cardinals had announced the signings of 28 of their 42 picks; that includes 11 of their 12 selections from the Draft's first 10 rounds. The bonuses of those 11 players all count against the Cardinals' bonus pool, which becomes $6,582,800 with the Cardinals' inability to sign third-round pick Trevor Megill.
Four of the Cardinals' first 12 picks signed at slot value, including top pick Luke Weaver and second-rounder Ronnie Williams. The Cardinals were able to then save money by coming to below-slot agreements with six players. Among those was supplementary second-round pick Andrew Morales, who signed for $250,000 less than the recommended slot for the 71st overall pick.
With those savings, the Cardinals were able to hand out above-slot bonuses to first-round pick Jack Flaherty ($2 million) and 29th-round selectee Bryan Dobzanski ($700,000). Both players had commitments to play in premier college programs. Though Dobzanski was taken after the 10th round, the portion of his bonus in excess of $100,000, by rule, counts against the Cardinals' pool.
As a result, the Cardinals spent $318,900 more than their allotment. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams with an overage of 0-5 percent incur a tax. Surpassing that five-percent threshold costs a team a future pick. The Cardinals come in under that five-percent figure by just a little more than $10,000.
Since the CBA implemented new spending rules before the 2012 season, it has been the organization's strategy to maximize their pool by approaching a five-percent overage without hitting it. The Cardinals, while they will not be handing out any more significantly over-slot bonuses, have until July 18 to come to agreements with any other unsigned picks.
Matheny has enjoyed piecing together NL roster
SAN FRANCISCO -- With All-Star Game voting set to end Thursday, fans can make one final push to cement Yadier Molina's selection as the National League's starting catcher. Molina held nearly a 500,000 vote advantage over Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy as of Tuesday's vote total release.
Molina is seeking a sixth-straight All-Star selection.
While fans are casting their final ballots, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is beginning to finalize his National League roster. He has already been provided with the results of the player vote, which has helped add clarity to the process.
"I've enjoyed doing it," Matheny said Wednesday. "I have a much better idea of where we're going to be based on where the players' vote went. It helps kind of put those missing pieces together."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday, July 6, beginning at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
• Matheny confirmed that Joe Kelly will make at least one more rehab start as he works his way back from a left hamstring strain. Kelly threw 49 pitches over four scoreless innings for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday. Matheny said it was reported back to him that Kelly's "stride looked more natural" but that he still did not have a great feel of his offspeed pitches.
• With Kelly not yet ready to rejoin the rotation, the Cardinals will need someone else to start on Sunday. Matheny would not fully commit to Marco Gonzales earning the start but said the club is leaning in that direction. Gonzales covered 4 1/3 innings in a loss Tuesday.
• The international signing period opened Wednesday with the Cardinals signing infielder Starling Balbuena, from the Dominican Republic, to a $300,000 deal, a source confirmed to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Cardinals did not announce any international signings.
• The organization named outfielder Rowan Wick (short-season State College) and left-hander Rob Kaminsky (Class A Peoria) as its Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for June. Wick, a ninth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, batted .407 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in 17 games. Kaminsky, a first-round selection in 2013, went 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.
• The Cardinals announced that they will be selling a select number of $4 tickets to the team's upcoming home games against the Pirates (July 7-9) and Rays (July 22-23). Fans are limited to six tickets per customer and can purchase them at cardinals.com/july beginning at 10 am CT on Thursday.
• Kolten Wong played a full game in his second rehab appearance with Triple-A Memphis. Wong, playing second and leading off, went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. He is eligible to come off the disabled list (left shoulder contusion) on Sunday.
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.