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Taveras befuddled about playing time

Taveras questions playing time

LOS ANGELES -- Instead of preparing to play center field for the Rockies on Friday night against the Dodgers, Willy Taveras found himself preparing for a heart-to-heart talk with manager Clint Hurdle.

Taveras arrived at Dodger Stadium to discover he was not in the starting lineup for the third straight game. Scott Podsednik got the start.

"I thought I was the everyday center fielder, and I haven't played in the last three days," Taveras said. "So I would like to speak to him as to why I'm not playing."

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After the closed-door meeting, Hurdle explained that Taveras is still his primary center fielder, but he wanted to ride Podsednik's hot hand. Podsednik went 3-for-5 with a double in Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Cubs, and came off the bench for a single in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Cubs.

"Based on the way he played yesterday, and his last run with his at-bats has been good, so I got him a game and maybe can back him up with another game to put some more footing beneath him," Hurdle said. "He's a good player.

"I still think for us, at least as we move forward, Willy is going to get every opportunity to play. I've just got to find reps and at-bats for Ryan Spilborghs, who does what he does very well. I think Podsednik is going to bring a very nice dimension and dynamic to our club that's going to play very well. They both happen to be able to play center field. I wouldn't say it's going to be a three-headed center fielder by any means. That'll be the farthest thing from the truth."

Part of Taveras' angst comes from the fact he was starting to find an offensive rhythm. He has hit safely in six straight games and 11 of his last 12, batting .315 (17-for-54) over that stretch. He started the season slowly and has a .368 overall average, and a .333 on-base percentage. Taveras also has made 15 starts, played in 17 games and scored 12 runs for a club that has had difficulty with runners in scoring position.

"Hitting-wise, I think I'm hitting well ... I'm healthy," he said. "That's all they worry about, if I'm healthy. I can play center field in the big leagues.

"You've got to be like that. You've got to be there every day if you're an everyday player. When you're not in the lineup, how can you hit? I've got three days off without being hurt."

Hurdle's job is tougher because there aren't as many at-bats in the corner outfield spots for Podsednik, who entered with a .304 average and was 4-for-4 on steal attempts, and Spillborghs, who is hitting .275 with a home run, two triples, a double and nine RBIs.

Spilborghs last started on Tuesday night.

Starting left fielder Matt Holliday is hitting .325 with four home runs and 13 RBIs, and is capable of a major hot streak. Regular right fielder Brad Hawpe is hitting .232 but has a .384 on-base percentage and is capable of streaks of power.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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