Top Prospects: Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Oscar Taveras has been labeled as and projected to be many things. Jermaine Curtis, who was called up from Triple-A on Friday, added another item to the list.

"The gift of baseball," is what Curtis called Taveras, who had been Curtis' Memphis teammate for the first three weeks of the season. Curtis also played with the 20-year-old outfielder in Double-A last season.

"He's one of the best hitters I've seen in my day," Curtis added. "Oscar Taveras is one talented kid. You guys will definitely see him play."

Taveras, ranked by MLB.com as baseball's No. 3 prospect and the best in the Cardinals' system, has had a solid start in his first season at Triple-A. He is 15-for-57 with six RBIs and nine runs scored. Taveras has reached base safely in 11 of the 15 games he has played.

Cards place Adams on DL, purchase Curtis' contract

MIL@STL: Adams' solo homer extends lead in fourth

ST. LOUIS -- After weeks of trying to find ways to get Matt Adams into the lineup, the Cardinals will now be without the first baseman until at least May 7. A day after Adams was seen by the Cardinals' team physicians, the organization placed him to the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday.

The move, manager Mike Matheny said, became a serious consideration Wednesday, when Adams continued to feel right-side discomfort as he resumed swinging. Adams then visited with the team doctors Thursday, and a magnetic resonance imagining exam revealed that he had sustained a small tear of his oblique muscle. There is also inflammation in the area of the injury.

"Sometimes you have to be a little more cautious," Matheny said. "You hate to do it when a guy is playing as well and feeling as good at the plate as he has been. But over the long haul, we hope to get in front of this and put it behind him."

Taking Adams' place on the 25-man roster is infielder Jermaine Curtis, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Memphis. This marks the first big league callup for Curtis, who was not a participant in Major League Spring Training this year.

Adams sustained the right oblique strain Monday while taking afternoon swings in the batting cage. At the time, the club termed the injury simply as tightness and allowed Adams to resume limited activity during the Cardinals' stay in Washington. He was not, however, used in any of the three games, which allows for his DL stint to be backdated.

Adams said Friday that he still felt a "shooting pain" when bending to his right.

"I felt progress, but the last couple days it's been feeling about the same," Adams said. "We'll keep doing my stuff in the training room and go from there."

Adams played catch Friday and said he expected to resume fielding grounders Saturday. Taking swings will be the last step in his rehab progression.

"It's really discouraging, but it's early, and we can get this resolved and start swinging again soon," Adams said. "They didn't want to be short on the bench. It's a thing that they decided. They wanted me to get healthy."

After making his first Opening Day roster, Adams opened the season 13-for-24, with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games. The hot start had prompted Matheny to try to find ways to get Adams into the lineup multiple times each week.

Cardinals replace Adams with unlikely callup

ST. LOUIS -- It was at nearly the identical point of the season last year that Jermaine Curtis, after being called into the office of Triple-A Memphis manager Ron "Pop" Warner, learned he was being sent back down to Double-A. He would never make it back up in 2012, finishing the season in Springfield, where he would go on to be named a Texas League All-Star.

And so it was understandable that upon Warner's similar office summons Thursday, Curtis briefly wondered if he would be hearing such news again. Curtis shook the thought immediately, he said, and after a requisite prank from Warner, he was told to prepare to depart for St. Louis on Friday.

With Matt Adams (right oblique strain) landing on the disabled list, the Cardinals had made the corresponding decision to call up Curtis. The 25-year-old UCLA product took a 7 a.m. flight out of Nashville to arrive in time to be available for Friday's series opener against Pittsburgh.

"This is a childhood dream to get the opportunity to come here and be with the best baseball players in the world," said Curtis, whose family is expected to join him in St. Louis over the weekend. "I'm going to learn. If I just come out here and be a cheerleader, I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team."

In finding someone to take Adams' roster spot, the Cardinals looked for a player capable of filling a pinch-hitting role. They found that fit in Curtis, who opened the Triple-A season 14-for-48 and with a team-best 17 RBIs.

In 2012, Curtis led the Double-A Texas League in on-base percentage (.416) while hitting .313 for Springfield. That was after he began the year in Memphis and hit .276 in 17 games. He finished his year by playing another 53 winter ball games in Mexico.

By earning his first Major League callup, Curtis arrives in St. Louis before several other position players who, unlike him, had participated in Major League camp this spring. The Cardinals had not delivered a similar invite to Curtis primarily because they did not see enough playing time available to him.

"He's a guy who has done enough to deserve this," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just worked himself into being considered for this. That's what the dream of playing professional ball is all about. You go and play wherever they tell you to play, and you produce and you never know when you're playing the right kind of baseball at the right time that you get the opportunities."

Curtis was thrilled, too, to see that the Cardinals had provided him with uniform No. 55, the number he said he told his teammates Thursday that he hoped to get. He knew his favorite number -- 5 -- would be unavailable, for obvious reasons.

Worth noting

• Though the Pirates started a lefty (Jonathan Sanchez) on Friday, manager Mike Matheny opted to start Jon Jay over Shane Robinson in center field. After giving Robinson two straight starts to end the series in Washington, Matheny did not want Jay to sit again Friday.

"He's one of our guys, and we need him in there on a consistent basis," Matheny said. "We need to get him right. He's had a few days to work on [his swing], and today's the day to get him back in there."

As it turned out, the left-on-left matchup never actually manifested. With Sanchez ejected four batters into his start, Jay faced righty Jeanmar Gomez in his first at-bat.

• Friday's game against Pittsburgh began a 12-game stretch in which the Cardinals will play each of the other four teams in the National League Central.

• The Cardinals entered Friday's game still leading the Majors with a .349 batting average with runners in scoring position. With two outs and a runner in scoring position, the club was batting .375. Matt Holliday carried the NL's best average (.588) with runners in scoring position.