MIA@STL: Taveras rips an RBI double to right

ST. LOUIS -- The Major League arrivals of Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco this season rivaled each other, with eyes glued to every at-bat.

Yet they have taken different routes since their much-anticipated first days in a big league lineup. Taveras, MLB.com's No. 2 prospect, has searched to find the success that garnered him praise, whereas Polanco, ranked No. 12, is quickly becoming one of the league's top rookies.

"Our hope, whenever we bring up a young player, is that they translate all the excitement and the things they've been able to do at the other levels and put it in play here," manager Mike Matheny said. "Polanco is an exciting player. I don't think we've really had Oscar hit that stride yet, but he's done it for too long at every level for us not to believe that's something that we're going to see."

Taveras homered in his first day in the Majors but hit .189 in 11 games during his first stint before being sent back to Triple-A. Polanco, meanwhile, started his career with an 11-game hitting streak and has hit .299 with three homers and 13 RBIs in his first 27 games in the Majors.

The two top prospects, who were out of the starting lineup on Monday before pinch-hitting late in the game, faced off for the first time on Tuesday. The two 22-year-olds, who competed against each other during the winter in the Dominican Republic -- with Taveras edging Polanco for Rookie of the Year -- didn't disappoint.

Polanco went 3-for-5, and Taveras went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .200. Taveras, seven games into his second Major League stint, is beginning to feel more relaxed.

"I feel at home, I feel comfortable at the plate," Taveras said through Cardinals bullpen catcher Roberto Espinoza after St. Louis' 5-4 win. "I'm taking good pitches. I've tried to just see my pitches and look for one I want."

Tuesday's matchup was the first of many to come between the two rookies, but Round 1 offered a strong first glimpse.

"Polanco is a talent we had heard a lot about, and I know people in baseball had been excited to watch a few of these guys on the field at the same time," Matheny said. "I don't think they disappointed."

Martinez proving to be a fast learner

Carlos Martinez threw a career-high six innings on Tuesday.

ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander Carlos Martinez may have completed only his fifth start of the season on Tuesday night, but he is learning quickly.

The 22-year-old Martinez, a starter throughout his Minor League career before moving to the bullpen last season with his upper-90s fastball, has learned to pitch rather than simply rely on his high heat to get outs.

"We've talked pretty consistently about his rhythm, where there are some times he's just jumping off the mound because he feels so good and can throw 100 [mph] and wants to show it," manager Mike Matheny said. "He doesn't quite need 100."

Martinez, who made one spot start in the Majors prior to this season, threw a career-high six innings on Tuesday, allowing four runs on nine hits in an eventual 5-4 win over the Pirates.

He did use his fastball -- he got All-Star Andrew McCutchen to swing through a 99-mph heater in the first inning as one of six strikeouts -- but made it through six innings by focusing on more than velocity, including what Matheny called Martinez's best sinker and quality offspeed pitches.

"I'm seeing more of a variety of pitches," Matheny said. "There is that first at-bat with McCutchen where he is just rearing back and letting it [go]. He's got that kind of ability. But then he backed off and he took a little off breaking balls at times. For the most part, he was better in the strike zone today, and he was rewarded by going deeper."

Martinez's trouble came when he left two pitches over the zone, resulting in a pair of two-run homers. He exited after having thrown 85 pitches.

With Martinez considered a long-term member of the rotation, the focus is on moving him away from relying solely on short bursts of high velocity and instead on pitching deeper into games.

The Cardinals, with Tuesday's win, improved to 5-0 when Martinez starts.

"I felt really good tonight. I felt I was consistent with my pitches," Martinez said through bullpen catcher Roberto Espinoza. "I think I just need to pitch."

Rumors about Peavy to Cards pick up steam

Mozeliak downplayed interest in the pitching market on Monday.

ST. LOUIS -- The Jake Peavy-to-St. Louis rumors picked up steam on Tuesday, perhaps more than the actual negotiations did.

The connection between Peavy and the Cardinals, who have targeted the Red Sox right-hander before, began late on Monday, when Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reported that St. Louis had a scout at Sunday's Red Sox-Orioles game, which Peavy started. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com later added that a deal between Boston and St. Louis could happen "quick."

The reports, however, come just a day after Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak downplayed the club's interest in the pitching market. Mozeliak said that most clubs willing to deal starters before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline were also looking for starting pitching in return. The tradeoff would be a loss in years of control for the Cardinals, who covet their young pitching.

"I think that would just make it problematic, so for us we feel pretty good where we're at from a pitching standpoint," Mozeliak said on Monday. "We expect to get [Joe] Kelly back at some point and feel pretty confident that those five [once Michael Wacha returns] can be successful."

The Cardinals appear more interested in upgrading on the offensive side, since they believe Wacha will return to the rotation this season. Kelly could be back as early as Friday, and Carlos Martinez has held his own as a starter since being thrust into the role.

Peavy is owed about $7 million this season and will be a free agent at year's end. The Cardinals would not be in line to collect any compensation for his departure, which makes it highly unlikely that they would part with any of their top talent to complete such an acquisition.

In 18 starts for the Red Sox this season, Peavy is 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA, 1.437 WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2-to-1.

Ladue's Kauffman among teacher honorees

ST. LOUIS -- Hank Kauffman taught math at Ladue (Mo.) High School for 52 years; now he will represent the hometown Cardinals at the All-Star Game next Tuesday at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Kauffman was announced Tuesday as one of 30 winners of the Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers campaign, which celebrates current and retired educators who have had an impact on the lives of their students and communities.

Kauffman, who started teaching math at Ladue High School in 1961, has earned an outstanding teaching award from the University of Chicago and is listed in "Who's Who Among America's Teachers."

All 30 winners, one representing each club, will be included in the All-Star Week activities and will be recognized during a ceremony prior to Tuesday's game.

Girsch removes himself from Padres GM candidacy

ST. LOUIS -- Michael Girsch, an assistant to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, announced on Tuesday that he has removed himself from consideration for the Padres' vacant GM position.

Girsch was among a number of candidates the Padres were considering after deciding to remove Josh Byrnes from the post on June 22. Girsch did not formally interview for the job.

Girsch joined the Cardinals in 2006 as the coordinator of amateur scouting before becoming director of baseball operations. He is in his fourth season as an assistant GM.

Worth noting

• Kelly is expected back in St. Louis on Tuesday, after which time the Cardinals will decide if he is ready to come off the disabled list and start Friday's series opener in Milwaukee. Kelly has been with Triple-A Memphis and made three rehab starts with that club.

Allen Craig, 3-for-29 in his last eight games, was out of the lineup on Tuesday, though he was among a group of hitters who arrived at Busch Stadium early on Tuesday.

• Matheny revealed that Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness had not been available out of the bullpen on Monday due to recent workload. With Rosenthal now having had two days off, he was expected to be ready to pitch on Tuesday, if necessary.

• The Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate also celebrated a walk-off win on Monday, with Luis Mateo delivering the game-winning hit. Memphis scored twice in the bottom of the ninth. Starter Zach Petrick allowed one run on six hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.