ATLANTA -- Initially scheduled to stick with the team through this road trip, Joe Kelly has returned to St. Louis after not feeling the sort of improvement he had hoped when testing his strained left hamstring while throwing off the Wrigley Field bullpen mound on Friday.
With Kelly unlikely to resume throwing off a mound for at least another week, the Cardinals did not feel it necessary to have him continue on this trip through Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Instead, Kelly will resume his therapy sessions with members of the Cardinals' medical staff back home.
"It just wasn't to the point where they thought they could push him, so keeping him on the rest of this road trip didn't make any sense," general manager John Mozeliak explained. "I don't know if I would call it a setback as much as it just wasn't progressing as much as we had hoped."
With Kelly's progress slowed, the Cardinals now prepare to play without him longer than they hoped. Kelly was eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, and while that was never a target date, the Cardinals did believe Kelly's athleticism could position him to return to the field sooner than most who deal with a similar injury.
The extended absence also means that Kelly will need to participate in a Minor League rehab assignment after building his arm strength back up through side sessions.
Taveras, Wong help lead Memphis to win
Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong, the Cardinals' top two prospects, each collected three hits and drove in three runs Monday, helping lead Triple-A Memphis to a 15-2 victory at Colorado Springs.
Taveras, ranked No. 2 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list, went 3-for-6 with two doubles and scored a run. Wong, ranked No. 54 on the Top 100, finished the game 3-for-6 with a double and a home run. He scored three runs.
Taveras had his 16-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, but is as hot as ever. He is hitting .312 with five home runs and a .878 OPS in 28 games this season.
Wong began the season as the Cardinals' starting second baseman, but was sent back to Triple-A after hitting .225 in 20 games. He has found much more success at the plate in Memphis. In eight games, he is hitting .343 with a .864 OPS. His home run Monday was his first of the season at either level.
With packed center field, Cards not rushing Taveras
ATLANTA -- Manager Mike Matheny admitted uncertainty as to how he'll continue divvying up playing time among his three center fielders. It does not appear, however, that he'll have a fourth candidate to consider in the immediate future.
Having heard the public pleas for Oscar Taveras' promotion, general manager John Mozeliak downplayed the organization's urgency to summon its top prospect to St. Louis. Recovered from an ankle injury that shortened his 2013 season and stalled his start this spring, Taveras has begun the regular season strong in Triple-A.
He had a 16-game hitting streak snapped over the weekend and is batting .301/.357/.495 through 27 games. Taveras has, however, played only four games in center field, the position the Cardinals could conceivably play him when they promote him. The Cardinals would prefer Taveras get more experience before playing center regularly in the Majors.
At the same time, there is no playing time to be had in either corner outfield spot, which Allen Craig and Matt Holliday have covered.
"There's no doubt that he's playing well and that's a good thing," Mozeliak said. "I know a lot is being made about Oscar coming to St. Louis. Right now, I just don't even think that is a logical thing to do because there are a lot of question marks going on in the outfield to begin with. I think it would just muddy it up at this point. He is playing every day, and I think that's good for him. If he continues to do what he's doing, he'll obviously make this a very difficult decision at some point."
Mozeliak reiterated that he sees little value in calling Taveras up unless the Cardinals are prepared to have him be an everyday player. The Cardinals would rather play on without Taveras for a while longer than slow his growth by making him a part-time player.
While Taveras prepares himself for an eventual call, Matheny continues to rotate center fielders. Bourjos drew the start on Monday -- his first since April 26 -- as Matheny saw a favorable matchup as an opportunity to get Bourjos right. Bourjos, who entered the game hitless in his last 18 at-bats, was 4-for-10 lifetime against Aaron Harang.
"We're still working our way through it," Matheny said of his three-man rotation. "I know it's frustrating for definitely two of them. One of them [Grichuk] is still kind of just excited to be here, I think, though I know he wants to be there [in the starting lineup] as well. We have to feel our way through it."
Motte's fastball shows life in latest rehab outing
ATLANTA -- Jason Motte found more than just improved competition as he began a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield on Friday. He also discovered added life on his fastball.
Motte, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, struck out all three batters he faced in Sunday's one-inning appearance. The result was positive, but the Cardinals were especially pleased with the radar gun readings. Motte, whose fastball was topping at 92-93 mph during his extended Spring Training appearances, reached as high as 96 mph in his Double-A outing.
"The reason we wanted him to be in a game anyway was to just get a little of that adrenaline going," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We felt like what was happening down in Florida was kind of that same routine day in and day out, and it's hard to get up for it. Our goal was to have him pitch under the lights."
Motte didn't exactly pitch under the lights, as Springfield played during the afternoon on Sunday. But he did have a sellout crowd at Hammons Field behind him. Mozeliak said he was unsure of Motte's pitching schedule for the week, but that the organization does plan to have the right-hander pitch on consecutive days soon.
"He had a good day," manager Mike Matheny said. "He had the life. That was one of the things we were concerned about not seeing. But getting into a higher level intensity situation, he did a real nice job making the most of his outing."
Cards encouraged by improvement in Garcia's elbow
ATLANTA -- Encouraged by how much the swelling around Jaime Garcia's left elbow had subsided in 24 hours, the Cardinals are optimistic that the lefty will not have his next scheduled Minor League rehab start pushed back but a few days.
Garcia took a pitch off his elbow while batting in the second inning of Double-A Springfield's game on Sunday. The plunking forced him out of the game at 28 pitches -- the Cardinals had targeted him for about 80 -- and left the organization concerned about the potential for a serious setback in Garcia's attempt to return from shoulder inflammation.
Garcia returned to St. Louis, where the Cardinals' medical staff examined him and deemed it unnecessary for Garcia to undergo an MRI. General manager John Mozeliak said he's hopeful Garcia will resume throwing off the mound as early as Tuesday.
"Overall, we were quite encouraged about where he is," Mozeliak said. "He may just need a couple days. We'll know for sure in the next 48 hours what his next start will look like. But we're hopeful that maybe by Sunday or Monday he can be in a game."
Garcia's next start had been scheduled for Friday, so that would not be too significant a delay. Mozeliak added that Garcia would likely still have the arm strength to aim for that pitch count of 80 his next time out. The start may not necessarily come with the Double-A club.
Before leaving Sunday's start, Garcia allowed a two-run homer, walked one and struck out two.
"Other than that one mistake, everybody felt he had a lot of life on his ball and looked good," Mozeliak said. "They were very encouraged. It's unfortunate. Everything was going so well for him and then to get injured while hitting is something that is the least of your worries. But now I know why you worry about it."
• Yadier Molina hit in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the second straight day on Monday as manager Mike Matheny continues his efforts to jumpstart an inconsistent offense. Matheny indicated that Molina could be his No. 2 hitter for a while, but that it won't be a long-term lineup spot for the veteran catcher.
• After opening the year in extended spring training, left-hander Rob Kaminsky made his Class A debut with Peoria (Ill.) on Sunday. Kaminsky, the No. 28 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, took the loss while allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out two.
• Adam Wainwright received votes for the National League Pitcher of the Month Award, which ultimately went to Miami's Jose Fernandez. Wainwright went 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 11 walks in March/April. Fernandez finished 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA, 55 strikeouts and eight walks during that same period.
• Sunday's win by Kevin Siegrist was the first by a Cardinals reliever in 32 games this season. The team's first reliever to earn a win in 2013 also came on May 4, though that marked the 30th game of that season.
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.