JUPITER, Fla. -- Wanting to get an extended look at one of the organization's rising special talents, the Cardinals invited outfielder Oscar Taveras to participate this year in his first Major League Spring Training.
Yet, almost as quickly as Taveras arrived in Jupiter for workouts, he spoke about departing. It was a possibility, too, that caught the Cardinals by surprise.
While meeting with media members Friday, Taveras brought up the possibility of playing for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Though Taveras was born in the Dominican Republic, he holds dual citizenship because he spent time living in Montreal as a child.
Taveras said his agent had recently talked to him about the possible opportunity to join the Canadian team next month.
"I'm going to talk to the team right now," Taveras added. "Maybe [I'll play]. Maybe not. That's a decision for the team and the agent."
At the time of Taveras' comments, the Cardinals were unaware of his interest in the Classic. The organization is not likely to encourage such participation. If Taveras were to leave for the Classic in March, he'd miss the opportunity to work with the Major League coaching staff and to shadow some of the Cardinals' other outfielders.
The Cardinals also expect that there will be plenty of playing time available for Taveras in Grapefruit League play.
"You look at Carlos [Beltran] going to the World Baseball Classic," manager Mike Matheny said. "You know that Matt [Holliday] is not going to be playing every day through the spring. There is going to be opportunities in the outfield. I plan on getting a good look at [Taveras], no question."
Matheny said he reached out to Taveras a few times this winter and spoke some Spanish to him in their phone conversations. His message was simple: Play hard. And play the game right.
Matheny said he would deliberately group Taveras with Beltran to initiate some mentorship. Friday, it was Jon Jay who took Taveras aside. The two discussed some specifics about playing center field.
"I have come here to improve my defense … and run the bases hard," said Taveras, noting the two facets of his game that he particularly wanted to improve.
Taveras' calling card, though, will continue to be his offensive ability, which some contend is already strong enough for Taveras to be able to hold his own at the Major League level. He will still most likely begin the season in Triple-A.
Healthy Beltran knows not to overdo it
JUPITER, Fla. -- Though he admitted to being hampered by injuries (more than he let on at the time) late in the 2012 season, Carlos Beltran reported to Spring Training having wrapped up an uninhibited workout program over the winter.
After allowing some time for the aches and pains brought on by the wear and tear of a full season, Beltran said he resumed his normal offseason regimen on schedule. On Friday, he described his current condition as "great."
"When you play 162 games, something is going to happen," Beltran said. "Something is going to hurt. I've been through so much. I tell my wife that I don't pay attention to my waist down. If something hurts, I ignore that part. I continue to move forward. It's part of baseball."
Beltran battled minor ailments throughout 2012, including soreness in his knees, forearm discomfort and an injury to his right hand. While each of those kept Beltran out of the lineup for various lengths of time, last year was the first since 2008 that Beltran was able to avoid a stint on the disabled list.
He played in 151 games, hitting .269 with 26 doubles, 32 homers and 97 RBIs.
Still, becaues of Beltran's injury history, the right fielder will be one of the players whose health manager Mike Matheny monitors especially closely. Matheny has said he will be more active in resting his veteran players in order to decrease the chances that they break down later in the season.
"We are going to have to step in as a staff, and there are going to be days where they don't really like it," Matheny said. "I've also had a year to build up trust with them, and if I've done that, then he can trust the fact that I'm trying to do what's best for him. It might not look right at the time, but the motive and intent is right."
Beltran conceded that a cautious approach is likely the right one.
"When you're a ballplayer and like to compete, sometimes it's hard to say that you need a day off," Beltran said. "You want to go out there and compete. You want to go out there and help the team win ballgames. But sometimes that's not a bad idea [to take a break]. Sometimes, I think, when you're a little banged up it's a little better to take a day than continue to push it, and that day will become a week because you end up hurting yourself."
Cardinals begin full-team workouts
JUPITER, Fla. -- Under not-so-sunny skies and a persistent drizzle, the Cardinals held their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on Friday.
Manager Mike Matheny, who was forced to limit his players to indoor or batting cage work Thursday because of rain, was relieved that his players could at least get outside for some work Friday. The schedule was altered to compensate for soggy field conditions. Though pitchers were able to throw off the mound and position players could participate in on-field defensive work, batting practice was held in the cages.
"I was ready to roll," Matheny said as the players took the field. "It's a little different spring and we've got some more time, so you can rationalize that if we only get a few things done that we're ahead of pace. We try to take advantage of every day we can."
The workouts, which wrapped up around 12:30 p.m. ET, were preceded by a team meeting, which Matheny led. Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak were also in the room for the gathering. Matheny said he used several of his observations from 2012 as a means to stress improvement.
"There's not some canned message," Matheny said. "It's reactionary. What have we seen? What challenges are new this year that we didn't have last year? What do we have in front of us that we need to talk about? That's what we addressed. I'll never forget [former manager] Tony [La Russa] telling me he started, as soon as the previous season ended, he started preparing it. He felt it was that important."
• Five commemorative "Musial 6" jerseys worn by hockey players from the St. Louis Blues will be sold through an online auction. Bidding began Friday and ends at 3 p.m. CT on Feb. 25. These special No. 6 jerseys were worn by the Blues before the team's Jan. 27 game. Musial had died a week earlier at 92.
The jerseys up for auction belonged to Blues players David Perron, Brian Elliott, Kris Russell, Ian Cole and Jamie Langenbrunner. All proceeds raised will go to Cardinals Care. For more information about the auction, or to make a bid, visit cardinals.com/musialauction.
• Right-hander Carlos Martinez and infielder Ronny Cedeno were the only two absentees from camp Friday, which was the first day of full-squad workouts for the Cardinals. Reliever Marc Rzepczynski showed up but went home early because of an illness.
• One of the highlights of Friday's workouts was a bunting competition, which was run by bench coach Mike Aldrete. The pitchers each had 10 chances to bunt balls within a certain boundary that began at the lip of the grass and went a few feet further. Trevor Rosenthal emerged the winner from the first group of pitchers. Victor Marte took the second competition.
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.