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Willy Taveras


Manager Phil Garner thinks Taveras has played as well as he has all season since he returned to the everyday lineup in late July. Taveras has an 11-game hitting streak and hit his first homer of the season in Arizona on Aug. 4.


Taveras was honored as Houston's Rookie of the Year on Friday, according to Yet if Jeff Bagwell is healthy enough to play in the spring, Taveras could spend a lot more time on the Astros' bench in 2006. If Bagwell is ready, Lance Berkman would play left field and newly signed Preston Wilson would start in center.


Taveras, who suffered a cut on the middle finger of his right hand Tuesday, is expected to return soon. On Sunday, the Astros' rookie center fielder pinch-ran and scored a run for the second time in three games.


After suffering a gash on the middle finger of his right hand Tuesday, Taveras has yet to take batting practice or throw a baseball. The Astros' center fielder could be available as pinch-runner this weekend, when Houston hosts Milwaukee for a three-game set.


Taveras cut the middle finger on his right hand on an odd play that resulted in an infield single and the Astros' center fielder having to exit the game in the third inning. He was hit on the finger while bunting the ball and then the ball hit him on the knee as he left the batter's box, so it could have been ruled a hit by pitch or an out, but it was counted as Taveras' major league-leading 67th infield hit.


Taveras tied a career high for hits in a game, going 4-for-6 with two runs scored in Monday's 12-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. With the performance, the rookie outfielder improved his August batting average to .352 in 13 games.


With a bunt single in Wednesday's victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Taveras notched his 51st infield single of the 2005 campaign, breaking the Astros' club record Craig Biggio set in 1992. It was the only hit of the game for the 23-year-old outfielder.


Taveras managed just an infield single in five trips to the plate in Houston's 8-5 loss to Baltimore Monday, but the hit gave the Astros' center fielder a 10-game hitting streak. During his 10-game run, Taveras is batting .500 (21-for-42) with seven runs scored.


Taveras notched a career-high four hits in four at-bats in Sunday's victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was forced to leave in the seventh inning after straining his left hamstring. The Astros' center fielder, who has been listed as day-to-day, will be re-evaluated on Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Taveras has hit safely in his last six games, going 12-for-24 (.500) with five runs scored and a stolen base over that span.


Taveras wasn't expected to settle in Houston until 2006, but Lance Berkman's injury and a solid spring by the 23-year-old prospect moved his timetable up a year. He's batting just .259, but he's walked enough for a .320 on-base percentage in the early going, and he's stolen a National League-best 14 bases while getting caught only twice.