3/9/2014 5:38 P.M. ET
Bourjos 'back to normal' after hamstring injury
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- If Peter Bourjos had any necessary convincing left to do to prove himself past a hamstring injury, the speedy center fielder took care of offering the proof in his first inning back on the field Sunday.
He opened the game with a walk and later easily scored from second on a single to left field. In the bottom half of the frame, he chased a ball to the center field wall before watching it go over as he slowed from his sprint.
In it all, there was no sign of an outfielder recently hampered by a cramp in his right hamstring.
"All felt great, back to normal," said Bourjos, who played five innings in the field and had three plate appearances. "I wasn't even worried about testing it out there or on the curves itself. I have felt great since probably Thursday. Everything loosened up, and I've been moving around pretty well."
"Watching him in BP, too, really going after some flyballs, I could see plenty of reason to be excited about him," added manager Mike Matheny. "It's just nice to see him out there healthy and moving well out there."
Now healthy, Bourjos has three weeks (18 exhibition games) left before the regular season to make up for the missed playing time. He has averaged 59 spring at-bats in the last three seasons but sits at only eight after his 0-for-2 day on Sunday.
It's not so much getting to a certain number again, Bourjos said, as it is honing in on his timing and pitch recognition. The first-inning walk Bourjos drew was a positive development in that regard. Bourjos, who has a career .306 on-base percentage, is looking to better that this season.
"I felt like I saw the ball pretty well, especially for not playing for a week and only having two games before that," Bourjos said. "I'm seeing the ball well, and that's what is important. … I'll take [as many] at-bats as I can get."
Taveras has setback with tight right hamstring
VIERA, Fla. -- Plans to push Oscar Taveras so that he could make up for missed at-bats have now been hampered by a right hamstring issue that forced the top prospect out of the lineup on Sunday.
Taveras alerted the Cardinals to tightness in his hamstring while serving as the designated hitter in Saturday's game. He went hitless in three at-bats before being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning. Manager Mike Matheny had planned to start Taveras against the Nationals again on Sunday but instead chose to have the outfielder bus with the team to Viera and only participate in pregame batting practice.
"He measured out strength-wise fine again, but it's time to slow things down again unfortunately," Matheny said. "We're going to hold him back for a little while."
The setback further complicates Taveras' attempts to play his way onto the Cardinals' Opening Day roster. He sat out the first week of Grapefruit League games while finishing his recovery from ankle surgery, but was expected to play regularly upon returning last Friday.
Instead, Taveras, ranked by MLB.com as baseball's third-best prospect, now has to prove his health to the Cardinals again before getting clearance to return to the field. After doubling in his first at-bat of the spring, Taveras has gone hitless in his five at-bats since.
"Even the balls he was missing, he was just missing," Matheny said. "He has that knack and that ability to find a good part of the bat on the ball. He's rare in that regard. But we need to have him healthy to really see what he can do."
Gonzales hampered by forearm soreness
VIERA, Fla. -- Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals' top pick from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, won't pitch again in Grapefruit League play after having a recent setback with left forearm soreness.
Manager Mike Matheny revealed the issue on Sunday when asked about Gonzales' lack of game exposure since Feb. 28. Matheny said Gonzales notified the club of some discomfort in the days after that 1 2/3-inning outing and was subsequently shut down.
An MRI taken of Gonzales' elbow revealed no structural damage and he has resumed playing catch. Gonzales expects to be throwing off the mound again this week, but he'll be doing it in Minor League camp. Matheny said the Cardinals will send him out, most likely on Monday, so that Gonzales can complete his spring program where there will be more opportunities to pitch.
Gonzales, 22, allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in his only appearance for the Cardinals this spring. He finished his first professional season with four starts in Class A Advanced Palm Beach last summer and is a strong candidate to open this year in that same rotation.
• Seth Maness endured his second straight rough outing, this time allowing three earned runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings against Washington. He gave up two runs in an appearance on Friday and has now surrendered six on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings this spring.
"I think he's just not as sharp as he wants to be right now," Matheny said afterward. "But we have time. I know he's ready to start seeing that consistent down-in-the-zone, put-the-ball-on-the-ground like we know he can do. The things like walks, those aren't things you see him do very often. He's off a click. He's got time to get it fixed."
• The Cardinals have not yet announced how they'll schedule the next starts for Lance Lynn and Carlos Martinez, both of whom would be ready to pitch on regular rest Wednesday. One pitcher will likely piggyback the other in that game against the Mets.
• The Cardinals still intend to get Pete Kozma some exposure across the infield, but he continues to play exclusively at shortstop because the club lacks depth at the position. He started there again on Sunday. Kozma could start getting some exposure at second and third soon, however, now that the Cardinals have signed Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz.
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.