Cardinals stunned by Taveras' death

Fans, Teammates Mourn Loss of Oscar Taveras


SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday he was stunned by the death of 22-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras in a car accident and his players were struggling with deep anguish after losing a young teammate.

"I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn't," Matheny said. "To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement."

Taveras died Sunday in his native Dominican Republic. He was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the crash on a highway between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, about 215 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo, said Col. Diego Pesqueira of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency.

"He wasn't carrying documents at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by family members," Pesqueira said.

National police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said he was told by the mayor of Sosua that Taveras lost control of his vehicle and went off the road. Edilia Arvelo, 18, who was in the car with Taveras, also died in the accident, Pesqueira said.

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Cardinals stunned by Taveras' death
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 16: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals tips his hat as he walks off the field after the Cardinals lose to the San Francisco Giants 6-3 during Game Five of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on October 16, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up during batting practice prior to Game Two of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Oscar Taveras, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate with teammates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Four of the National League Divison Series at Busch Stadium on October 7, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Pinch hitter Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals singles in the eighth innings of Game Two of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with teammate Oscar Taveras #18 after Carpenter's two-run homerun in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals signals to the umpire that he was safe in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez (9) throws to first base on the force out of St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras (18) during the fifth inning on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals is hit by a pitch during the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 23: Right fielder Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into home to score a run in the top of the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 23, 2014 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 16: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals singles in the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on August 16, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 10: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on from the dugout during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 10, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Cardinals defeated the Orioles 8-3. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 3: Peter Bourjos #8 and Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 at Busch Stadium on August 3, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 8: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 8: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals talks to hitting coach John Mabry #47 in the dugout during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Oscar Taveras #87 of the St. Louis Cardinals watches the action prior to the start of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Jet Blue Field on February 26, 2013 in Fort Myers, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Red Sox 15-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Oscar Taveras #87 of the St. Louis Cardinals watches the action prior to the start of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Jet Blue Field on February 26, 2013 in Fort Myers, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Red Sox 15-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Oscar Taveras #87 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up prior to the start of spring training on February 20, 2013 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Oscar Taveras #87 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up prior to the start of spring training on February 20, 2013 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Oscar Taveras #87 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at the Roger Dean Stadium on February 28, 2013 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Oscar Taveras #77 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a portrait during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 31: Jon Jay #19, Matt Holliday #7 and Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after beating the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on May 31, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Giants 2-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 31: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals acknowledges the fans during a curtain call after hitting his first major league home run in his second at bat against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on May 31, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 31: Oscar Taveras #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on May 31, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Giants outfielder Juan Perez heard about Taveras' death during Game 5 of the World Series. He hit a two-run double in the eighth inning of San Francisco's 5-0 victory and dedicated the hit to his fallen countryman.

"He's a really close friend of mine," Perez said. "I know his family pretty good, I know his mom, his dad, his brothers, we were really close. It's a huge loss for all his family, his teammates and the people that care about him."

Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.

"I simply can't believe it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest."

Matheny said the team had forged deep ties and affection for Taveras.

"In my opinion, the word `love' is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes," he said. "But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar."

Taveras was a teenager when he signed with St. Louis as an international free agent in 2008. Before this season, Taveras was ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America, and had a .321 average over six minor league seasons. He homered against the Giants' Yusmeiro Petit in his major league debut May 31. He also had a big solo drive in the seventh inning of Game 2 in the NL Championship Series against San Francisco.

"All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Oscar, a young member of the baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago."

It looked as if Taveras was headed to the majors in 2013, but he had surgery for a high right ankle sprain last August for an injury that did not respond to treatment. He got off to a nice start at Triple-A Memphis this season, earning a promotion by batting .325 with seven homers in 49 games.

Several of Taveras' Cardinals teammates took to Twitter to express their condolences.

"Last 30 minutes I've been sick to my stomach. Keep thinking about Oscar's big smile in the dugout whenever we made a big play/got a big hit," All-Star reliever Pat Neshek posted. Rookie second baseman Kolten Wong tweeted: "RIP you will be missed buddy."

"Oscar had a very promising future, on and off the field, and this news is heartbreaking on many levels," Tony Clark, the leader of the players' association, said in a statement. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and to lose one so young is devastating news."

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