Top Prospects: John Gast, LHP, Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander John Gast looked the least bit frazzled as he held his first media session on Monday, following news that he would be coming to St. Louis to make his Major League debut. He seemed unconcerned, too, about nerves surfacing between now and Tuesday's start.

The steady professional climb that Gast has made since being a sixth-round selection out of Florida State in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft will culminate with his start against the Mets. Gast, who is temporarily taking Jake Westbrook's place in the rotation, earned the promotion after opening the Triple-A season with 32 scoreless innings.

"I obviously started pretty well," Gast said. "It's been unbelievable so far. Just another year of getting better and executing more and more, a higher percentage of the pitches."

The results were much improved over Gast's introduction to Triple-A competition the year before. The same level he dominated this April proved a struggle for him at times in 2012. He finished with a 5.10 ERA and .286 opponents' batting average in 20 Triple-A starts last year.

"I'm a lot more confident, I would say," Gast said. "And the fact of having played in that league the year before and being able to build off of it and going off of those experiences last year."

Even the task of assimilating into a new clubhouse on Monday wasn't all that daunting, Gast said, because he spent much of Spring Training as a participant in big league camp. That time also allowed manager Mike Matheny to get a better look at a pitcher who wasn't necessarily a standout in the box scores the year before.

"He just continues to improve," Matheny said. "Obviously, he had a very good April, and hopefully he can keep building on that here. He's been just a quality pitcher. He's got a good arm and knows how to pitch. He's smart."

Among those expected to be at Busch Stadium for Gast's debut will be his parents, who are traveling from Florida for the occasion.

"I'm just basically trying not to get too hyped up," said Gast, who has been assigned No. 64. "Maybe when I get here tomorrow, that's probably when [the nerves] will start kicking in, when I go out there and start playing catch. That's probably when it'll hit me."

Carpenter continues progression toward return

Carpenter drops by Cards camp, discusses his health

ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter threw an estimated 56 pitches during an afternoon bullpen session at Busch Stadium on Monday. It was the latest step forward in a progression that Carpenter hopes will end with him pitching in games this year.

The side session drew several onlookers, including manager Mike Matheny, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and members of the Cardinals' rotation. They watched as Carpenter mixed in fastballs and offspeed pitches in what was his fifth bullpen session since resuming his comeback bid.

As recently as two months ago, Carpenter was coming to terms with the fact that he would never pitch in a Major League game again.

"I started thinking about wanting to pitch and see what can happen, but I know the ultimate result won't be good," Carpenter said after arriving at Spring Training on March 18.

That resignation has since been replaced by a growing optimism that Carpenter has not yet thrown his last pitch.

"It was good," Matheny said after watching Carpenter throw. "He's just going about his bullpens. It looks like the ball is coming out of his hand pretty good. We'll wait and see how he feels in recovery, and then keep moving forward."

The Cardinals have not yet locked Carpenter into a specific program, but will continue to push the right-hander as long as his body continues to respond. The numbness and back discomfort that forced Carpenter to stop throwing in early February has, to this point, not resurfaced.

The organization expects to have a better grasp on what the next checkpoint will be for Carpenter by the end of the week.

Taveras not expected to go on disabled list

Top Prospects: Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- The ankle injury that forced Oscar Taveras out of Triple-A Memphis' game on Sunday is not expected to land the organization's top prospect on the disabled list.

Taveras rolled his right ankle sliding into second base and was immediately taken out of Memphis' game against Fresno. An X-ray taken on the ankle showed no fracture, leaving the Cardinals optimistic that Taveras will be back on the field within a few days.

Taveras opened the season ranked as baseball's third-best prospect by MLB.com. With two hits on Sunday, he bumped his season average up to .317. Taveras has hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games and is tied for the team lead with 20 RBIs. Twelve of his 39 hits have been for extra bases.

Worth noting

• The opening created in Memphis' rotation upon Gast's promotion will be filled by right-hander Boone Whiting. Whiting will make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday. In six starts for Double-A Springfield, Whiting was 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA, 34 strikeouts and seven walks.

• Former Cardinal Rick Ankiel was back at Busch Stadium on Monday, this time as a member of the Mets. New York signed the recently-released outfielder on Monday and wasted no time getting Ankiel in the lineup. Ankiel, who began the season with Houston, hit seventh and started in center field in his Mets debut.

• Matheny labeled Monday as a "semi-scheduled" day off for shortstop Pete Kozma. Wanting to make sure Daniel Descalso gets periodic starts, Matheny chose Monday as an ideal day to get Descalso's left-handed bat in the lineup.

• At 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday, the Cardinals will begin selling tickets for Chelsea soccer team's public training session, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 22 at Busch Stadium. Chelsea and Manchester City will play a game at Busch Stadium the following night. Tickets to the training session are $20 and will be available at cardinals.com/soccer, the Busch Stadium Box Office or by calling 314-345-9600.