PHILADELPHIA • Oscar Taveras is hitting .238, not exactly what the Cardinals had in mind when they brought him up for the first time May 31. But this average, achieved by a current six-game hitting streak in which he had two hits Sunday, is Taveras’ highest since his second day in the big leagues, and he is beginng to look like a different hitter.
“Huge adjustments,” said manager Mike Matheny.
“He’s really worked hard in the cage with John and David (hitting coaches John Mabry and David Bell) on his approach and shortening his swing a bit. Even his outs (Sunday) were pretty loud.
“He’s definitely taking steps in the right direction.”
Taveras, nine for 22 during his streak, no longer seems to be trying to drive every ball to another constellation, and his stroke seems more compact, as when he drove a double to right field in the ninth inning after fouling off two pitches.
Through a translator, Taveras said, “I’ve been working hard with the coaches, coming early and working on all this stuff. I’m coming to the ball quicker with my swing and I’m swinging at good pitches.
“That’s part of the positive results I’m getting now.”
The 22-year-old Taveras, playing every day after Allen Craig was traded in late July, said he was more comfortable now.
“In the beginning it was kind of hard, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to play every day,” Taveras said.
“It’s easier now. It’s easier for every player knowing that he’s going to play every day. You can’t make those adjustments before (when Craig was playing more than Taveras).”
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After his much publicized benching when he didn’t run the bases well, or with much verve, Taveras has been more aggressive, notably Saturday night when he singled and advanced to third on an error before scoring on a squeeze bunt.
“I don’t have any problem with that,” Taveras said. “I’ve always run the bases well. But sometimes things happen to every player in the game.”
• Lefthanded reliever Kevin Siegrist, dispatched to Class AAA Memphis last weekend, didn’t allow a hit or run in his first three innings, walking two and striking out four.
Siegrist missed two months of big-league time because of a forearm strain and a nerve issue in his shoulder and was erratic in his return, being scored on in five of nine outings before he was optioned. He had been only moderately effective before that.
“You’re trying to get out some of the best in the world with compromised stuff and it’s a tall order,” said Matheny.
• Outfielder Jon Jay is leading the National League in August batting average at .404. The last Cardinal to hit over .400 in this month was Yadier Molina two years ago.