ST. LOUIS -- Oscar Taveras, a day after having his surgically repaired right ankle examined by a Cardinals team physician, said he expects to be "100 percent ready" when he reports to Spring Training next month.
Taveras has been rehabbing his ankle since undergoing a procedure to repair torn ligaments and clear out loose cartilage. He has not resumed running at full speed, though general manager John Mozeliak said Taveras should be cleared to do so within the next few weeks.
"With the work that I've done this week and what I've done at home with the trainer, I feel 100 percent," Taveras said Saturday through interpreter Marissa Diaz, a member of the Cardinals' community-relations department. "In Spring Training, I hope to get stronger and be back with the team."
Taveras, who enters 2014 as the organization's top prospect, was limited to 174 at-bats last season due to the ankle injury and subsequent surgery. The Cardinals are open to considering him for an Opening Day roster spot but first want to see how/if the lost time has affected him.
Taveras will get spring work at all three outfield positions during Spring Training, though with the offseason addition of Peter Bourjos, he'll more likely find a big league fit in right field.
"He absolutely looks great," Mozeliak said. "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.
"I think for all of us, including myself, I'm just excited to see where he's at and where he may fit in. I think the one thing you always have to remind yourself is to be patient. The fact that we have a Matt Adams and an Allen Craig interchangeable does give us flexibility."
The Cardinals have brought Taveras to St. Louis about once a month this offseason to monitor his progress. During his stays, Taveras has participated in workouts alongside Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Holliday. He has been taking batting practice for some time now.
"I've been working really hard with my ankle," Taveras said. "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."
Taveras said he plans to report to Spring Training on Feb. 10, a week earlier than the first official workout for position players.
Peralta eager to prove himself for Cards on field
ST. LOUIS -- On a day when he made his first public appearance as a Cardinal, new shortstop Jhonny Peralta expressed remorse for his past performance-enhancing drug transgressions and a desire to prove that the Cardinals made the right decision to look beyond his mistakes.
Peralta, who signed a four-year, $53 million contract in November, is coming off a season marred by his connection to Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Florida that allegedly supplied players with PEDs. Peralta accepted a 50-game suspension for violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy last summer before returning to the Tigers at the end of the season.
He was strong in his late-season return, and Peralta, 31, wants to show he is still plenty capable of being a key contributor.
"I want to show to the fans and to the people that it's not what everybody thinks about it," Peralta said during his Winter Warm-Up appearance. "I know I could play baseball before [this connection to Biogenesis]. I know I can play baseball naturally. I have to show people that I can do it and that I can help."
Asked if he would address his new teammates regarding his PED past as he did his teammates in Detroit last year, Peralta added: "I'm trying to put it in the past. I'm trying to look forward and forget about it. I know a lot of the guys here in St. Louis are pretty good guys. I think they're going to welcome me."
Peralta, who fills what was a gaping hole at shortstop, said several teams were courting him to play that position this offseason. The reputation of the Cardinals organization and the chance to play on a perennial playoff contender drew him to St. Louis.
"I knew the Cardinals needed somebody to play shortstop and that offense was more important for them," Peralta said. "I had a couple of opportunities to go different places, but I decided to come here. It's a better organization, and it will be good to play here.
"I've been watching the Cardinals for a long time, and this was one of the teams I wanted to be with. It's a great organization and there's a great opportunity to be a champion. I want to be a champion, too. When my agent told me about [their interest], I was very excited about it."
In light of mega-contract, Waino happy where he's at
ST. LOUIS -- Noting that "you can't buy happiness," Adam Wainwright was insistent that, even in light of Clayton Kershaw's new mega-deal, he has no regrets about signing a five-year, $97.5 million extension last spring. That contract, which begins this season, precluded Wainwright from testing the free-agent waters this offseason.
"I was so happy to go into this offseason and not have to worry about being a free agent. I'm right where I want to be," Wainwright said. "Do I think I could have made more money on the free-agent market? Absolutely. But you can't buy happiness. I'm not going to be happier anywhere else but where I am right now."
The agreement that Wainwright and the Cardinals settled on last March will pay him $19.5 million annually through 2018. Last week, Kershaw agreed to a seven-year, $215-million deal that includes an option for him to opt out after five seasons. The average annual value of this deal is $30 million, a Major League Baseball record.
The discrepancy in value seems wide given that these two pitchers finished first and second in the most recent Cy Young voting. However, age is a factor that cannot be overlooked. Wainwright will be 37 when his contract ends, while Kershaw, now 25, will still be in his prime when his expires.
"What I want to do at the end of this contract -- just like I did in the other one -- is say I lived up to the contract I signed," Wainwright said. "I have great confidence that I'm going to do that. The contract that he signed is amazing. There's no doubt about it. But he's also 25 years old. Compared to him, I'm an old man. I take my role here on this team very seriously. I love where I'm at, I love what I've learned here, and I can't wait to pass it on.
"There's no other color I want to wear."
Wainwright, who has recruited Kershaw to join his Waino's World charity initiative in 2014, said he texted the Dodgers left-hander to congratulate him on the new contract. As for the Cardinals, they certainly benefited from the timing of the Kershaw deal, as it would have helped Wainwright in his negotiations had the deal been in place a year earlier.
"Clearly, if that [Kershaw contract] was on the board today and we were trying to sign somebody like Adam Wainwright, it would really pull someone up," general manager John Mozeliak said. "The St. Louis Cardinals organization view of things, our hope is that we offer an attractive product in a place where players are happy to play. Adam certainly knew that if he wanted to go to market, he would have done better. He knew that. And I think all of you did."
Retired pitcher Carpenter to join front office
ST. LOUIS -- General manager John Mozeliak confirmed on Saturday that Chris Carpenter will join the front office this season in a to-be-determined role. Carpenter, who did not speak with the media after his Winter Warm-Up appearance, had expressed an interest in remaining with the organization once his playing career ended.
He officially retired in November.
Carpenter's new role, which has not yet been titled, will not be a uniformed one. Rather, he'll get an introduction to various front-office and scouting duties by working with Mozeliak and other members of the baseball operations staff.
"We're going to try to come up with the curriculum for him that allows him to get exposure to the different elements of our front office. I welcome that," Mozeliak said. "I've known him a long time, and I think his insights could be valuable. I think the key is, how do we harness it? How do we come up with something that isn't too overwhelming in the first month or year, but also keeps him interested?"
Carpenter will spend some time in Jupiter, Fla., during Spring Training to participate in a training program the Cardinals host for their young scouts. The transition into a front-office job is made easier by the fact that Carpenter has made St. Louis his home.
Once Mozeliak finalizes the job description, the organization will officially announce the staff addition.
"Obviously, i's need to be dotted and t's need to be crossed," Mozeliak said, "but he's excited to do something and we want him to do something."
• Adam Wainwright, who typically begins his offseason throwing program around the first of the year, said he pushed the start date back two weeks to compensate for a shorter offseason and heavy 2013 workload. He said he is open to possibly altering his Spring Training plan as well but noted that "doing things too differently would be a mistake."
• General manager John Mozeliak said he will hold a meeting on Tuesday to begin working through the logistics of finding someone to fill the video-specialist role that is being added with the introduction of instant replay. With the new replay system, clubs will be permitted to have a video specialist in the clubhouse with access to all the video available to replay officials. That video specialist can then communicate with personnel in the dugout to help advise when to challenge.
"I didn't want to put the cart before the horse, but I also didn't want to be like, 'Oh gosh, what do we do now?'" Mozeliak said. "On Tuesday, we'll meet and really lay it out and determine if we need to hire somebody or if we have some in-house possibilities."
• Though the Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, Mozeliak noted that there is a real possibility of needing a panel to help settle Daniel Descalso's case. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement independently, the panel will decide between Descalso's proposed $1.65 million and the Cardinals' $930,000 offer.
• Asked about Major League Baseball's pursuit to eliminate home-plate collisions, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina offered his full support.
"I'm good with it," said Molina, who appeared at the club's Winter Warm-Up on Saturday. "I'm 100 percent certain it's going to help, especially the catchers."
• It was an offseason of weddings for several Cardinals players, as Jon Jay, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Descalso all wed after the World Series. "For whatever reason, the four of us are on the same plan," Descalso joked. "We didn't plan it out that way. It just sort of happened."
• Mozeliak said that while he does not anticipate the Cardinals making any contract-extension offers before Spring Training, he "wouldn't rule anything out between now and Opening Day." Last season, the Cardinals extended both Allen Craig and Wainwright while in Jupiter, Fla. A year before, it was Yadier Molina who signed an extension during Spring Training.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.