CHICAGO -- Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras is again knocking at the door of a big league callup. Ranked the Cards' No. 1 prospect and the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, Taveras is hitting .316 with five home runs, 18 RBIs and an .895 OPS in 25 games at Triple-A Memphis.
Manager Mike Matheny made it clear getting regular at-bats is the most important thing for Taveras right now.
"We're just trying to keep him going, not knowing exactly what it would look like up here with some outfielders doing a pretty good job, knowing it probably wouldn't be an extended amount of playing time, as far as every day goes," Matheny said. "For him to just keep going, especially with the amount of time that he missed last year, to keep progressing forward, he's having a real nice start."
Taveras has hit .320 with 50 home runs and 293 RBIs in six Minor League seasons covering five levels. The biggest area for improvement remains his defense, which Matheny said he didn't have enough information on.
"You take an everyday player and you bring him up here as a role guy, I think you have to look at the bigger picture: what's going to be best for him, what does he need," Matheny said. "Whether it's physically, whether it's developmentally.
"But Oscar's checking off the boxes. He's doing everything he can do right now, and I'd like to see all our guys stay healthy and that's something we can delay. But if that opportunity comes up, we'll figure out what's going to be best for him and best for our club."
Grichuk draws another start as Bourjos sits
CHICAGO -- The Cardinals acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos in the offseason to fill a couple of needs -- chief among them better outfield defense and team speed -- and were willing to part with World Series hero David Freese to do so.
Bourjos' short time with the Cards has not gone well, though. He is hitting .160 in 47 at-bats and is mired in a 1-for-18 slump, and the speedy outfielder was held out of the starting lineup for the fifth straight game on Friday against left-hander Travis Wood. The move had as much to do with Matheny wanting to play Jon Jay, who was hitting .455 (10-for-26) in his career against Wood entering Friday, as well as the recently recalled Randal Grichuk.
"There's always something on the horizon," manager Mike Matheny said of Bourjos. "We'd love to get him in there. Want him to stay positive and ready. He's going to get opportunities ... and then also try to stay with Randal Grichuk, the fact that he's been playing on a consistent basis and doing a pretty good job at Triple-A, and try to keep that going."
Grichuk picked up his first Major League hit in his first career start against the Brewers on Tuesday. He has yet to receive the ball after Daniel Descalso pranked Grichuk by making it look like he tossed the ball into the stands, only Grichuk never saw it happen. Grichuk was alerted by a friend to what Descalso had pulled, and he said the ball is in safe keeping with the coaching staff.
"I mean, anywhere I can get in there to get ABs, I'll take it," Grichuk said of being in the starting lineup for a second time in three games. "It's a great opportunity."
Kelly throws second time to test hamstring
CHICAGO -- Right-hander Joe Kelly played catch from a mound for the second time on Friday morning, and he said his strained left hamstring feels better than the last time he threw, on Wednesday. Kelly also jogged and performed other movements to loosen the hamstring.
"It's definitely still weak," Kelly said. "Feels a little fatigued, but less today. And last time, I was just pitching through it. Today it was more. I had to think less about it, so it wasn't too apparent to me when I was throwing."
Kelly said his arm strength is still there because he's been able to play catch on a regular basis.
"This is really a little more magnified with that hamstring," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "There are just so many more levels you have to pass, even stretching, what kind of resistance you're getting, the pain that comes with certain movements. As he gets over one hurdle, there will be another one. We're not going to let him get too far too fast. It's going to be a progression."
There is still no timetable for when Kelly might begin a rehab assignment. He was placed on the disabled list on April 17, after straining his hamstring running out a bunt single the previous day against the Brewers. Kelly said he will continue to play catch from a mound every two days.
• The Cardinals used Thursday's off-day to avoid using a fifth starter and keep Adam Wainwright and the rest of the rotation on regular rest. Tyler Lyons would have otherwise pitched on Friday. The Cards will need a fifth starter for Tuesday, but Matheny did not commit to using Lyons, and said Lyons would be available in the bullpen on Friday. They will likely announce a starter for Tuesday's game on Saturday.
• Friday's game began a nine-game, 10-day road trip to Chicago, Atlanta and Pittsburgh that finished a stretch in which the Cardinals played 20 of 26 games away from home.
• Entering Friday, the Cardinals were 34-20 (.629) against the Cubs since 2011, but just 12-12 at Wrigley Field in that span.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.