Taveras close to '100 percent' for camp

Cards prospect has high hopes for return from ankle surgery

Oscar Taveras hit .306 with five homers and 32 RBIs at Triple-A. (Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | January 18, 2014 11:07 PM ET

Five months after undergoing season-ending ankle surgery, Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras said he expects to be ready to report for Spring Training in February.

"With the work that I've done this week and what I've done at home with the trainer, I feel 100 percent," Taveras told MLB.com through an interpreter on Saturday. "In Spring Training, I hope to get stronger and be back with the team."

The 21-year-old outfielder met with a team physician Friday and has been rehabilitating his ankle after having surgery to repair torn ligaments and clear out loose cartilage last August.

While Taveras has not been cleared to run at full speed, general manager John Mozeliak said he's excited to see where the team's top prospect will fit in the organization. Taveras is expected to play all three outfield positions in camp, providing a versatile option for the Cardinals, who acquired Peter Bourjos from the Angels in the offseason.

"He absolutely looks great," Mozeliak told MLB.com. "By the time we get to Spring Training, he should be cleared to run. But just from a physical standpoint, I think he's in the best shape of his life."

Taveras played only 47 games for Memphis last season, his first at Triple-A. He never fully recovered after injuring his ankle while stealing second base on May 12 against Fresno and batted .306 with five homers and 32 RBIs.

"I've been working really hard with my ankle," said Taveras, MLB.com's No. 2 overall prospect. "Physically, I feel prepared. I feel good. Last year was off because of the ankle. I felt bad because I wasn't on the team. But I was watching the team, watching my friends play hard. That got my spirits up to work hard this year. If God has it, I will be on the team this year in 2014."

The native of the Dominican Republic plans to report to Florida on Feb. 10, a week before the report date for Cardinals position players.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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