Oscar Taveras' injury-plagued 2013 season is officially over.
The Cardinals and Taveras have decided that the outfielder, considered one of the top prospects in baseball, will have exploratory arthoscopic surgery to determine why he still feels pain in his injured right ankle. The news was first reported by Baseball America correspondent Derrick Goold for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Taveras initially injured the ankle in mid May. He returned to the Triple-A Memphis lineup on June 8 but just two weeks later he returned to the disabled list because of further pain in the ankle. He's spent the past month and a half rehabbing the injury, and has been close to returning to action several times. Taveras played one game in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League on July 15 before shutting it down because of problems with the ankle. He was expected to return to action as early as this weekend, but the return of pain in his ankle led the Cardinals to decide to shut him down again.
The surgery will allow doctors to figure out what is the cause of the continuing discomfort and repair any damage. Because the cause of the pain is as of yet unknown, there is no timetable for Taveras' recovery.
Taveras hit .306/.337/.462 for Triple-A Memphis this season in 46 games. He ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball before the 2013 season, and and had moved up to No. 2 for Baseball America's midseason Top 50 Prospects list.
The injury clouds St. Louis' plans for 2014. Carlos Beltran will be a free agent at the end of the year, and it was expected that Taveras would be ready to step in and replace him to start next season. His lingering injury adds a little uncertainty to that possible plan, but the Cardinals, one of the deepest teams in baseball, do have other options, including possibly moving Allen Craig from first base to right field while Matt Adams could step in at first base.