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By Brian Stull of St. Louis Baseball Weekly

St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras is nearing the finish line of the rehab on his surgically repaired ankle, but close as he may be Manager Mike Matheny is not going to insert the outfielder into the lineup—even for a pinch-hit, until he is fully ready to go.

"Not until he's 100% and not holding back," repeated Matheny while pointing out that Taveras is cleared to push the ankle without limitations but is still adjusting to the recovery process.

"I think its pretty standard with everybody when they've had an injury, you just get so used to favoring—you get so used to using the other side predominantly that it's hard to incorporate it back without even that subconscious stuff."

Taveras has been running aggressively in various defensive drills and Matheny did acknowledge that the outfielder is getting close to being written into the lineup.

More than a few fans noticed on Monday when Taveras was listed on the travel squad for the team's 8-5 loss at Detroit.

But that was Matheny including Taveras—and several other young players for the learning experience off the field rather than on it.

"That's what young guys do—they make trips," began the impassioned skipper. "You look down at the end of the bench—there's Willie Mc, there's Lou Brock. You see some of our everyday players sitting around talking shop, talking about pitchers stuff. If you've got your antennae up and you're looking to learn, you're going to learn.

"If you're looking to sit around enjoy a nice bag of sunflowers seeds, that's about all you're going to get out of the day and maybe a little bit of sun on the back of your neck and that's a shame. So we encourage these guys to get in there and figure out how to make themselves better and hopefully they're all taking advantage of it."

Brian Stull will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2014 MLB season. Brian is the St. Louis Cardinals lead writer at St. Louis Baseball Weekly and is host of the St. Louis Baseball Weekly radio show on CBS Sports Radio 920.

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