A's Taylor dealing with Triple-A limbo

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A's Taylor dealing with Triple-A limbo

Whenever covering the A's prospects on the Sacramento River Cats, I make it a priority to go talk to outfielder Michael Taylor. Aside from being one of the most talented players on the field, he is an extremely intelligent and insightful person to speak with, and an all around quality individual. He is particularly adept at explaining and analyzing certain situations. Speaking with him really provides a glimpse inside what a person has to go through on the daily grind as a professional baseball player. Taylor's .292 batting average and 64 RBIs rank second on the River Cats. His .410 on-base percentage ranks him first on the team by a wide margin. The former Stanford University standout has had two short stints with the A's this season. With time running out for another call up, we sat down at a table in the River Cats clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game in Sacramento to discuss his season, and future.
CP: Last time we saw each other was in Oakland. You were departing the A's clubhouse with your bags packed. How tough is it to deal with getting called up and then being sent down after just a couple days with the team?MT: A lot of people are in the situation in Triple-A where it's tough to get your feet dug in. That's in any high pressure, high performance, very few slots type of job environment. It's a little different in baseball because you almost have to have a child's joy to play this game well every day. It is difficult when the business side of it on the day-to-day basis is apparent in your life. There's usually a couple of days where you kind of have to refocus. But at the end of the day, the only choice you have is to reset your goals and attack them. Easier said than done. Sometimes it is really tough. Other times you are able to refocus quickly. I feel like the last 12 months I've done a decent job taking everything in stride. The downs have been extreme in some instances. I've had some high moments and some low moments.CP: Consistency is obviously important and it seems like you are getting on base almost every game. At this point what more do you think you have to learn in Triple-A?MT: I talked about it with some of our hitting guys and Todd Steverson here. I think at this point in my career it's going to be short stints. Those short stints either need to be fortuitous in a situation I get an extended look, or do well in those short moments. That's an adjustment too. It's tough to go to the big leagues and face a level of competition that is completely different than here. Not necessarily the mental grind, obviously there is more pressure there. Guys are better, they throw harder, guys know what they are doing. Not only do they execute their pitches, but they execute them with great stuff. In short stints it can be really tough to do it even as a really good major leaguer. I'm focused now at this point in my career on trying to find a way to take what I believe is some of my consistency over a long period of time and infuse that into short moments of success. Hopefully I can get a longer look, and get more time and more opportunity to play a few times a week, or stay longer than 36 hours, or five days, or whatever it has been this year. So that's my new challenge. They always say it is a season, you are averaging your ups and your downs, but when you get to the big leagues sometimes it's an at-bat, or two at-bats, or it's a pinch hit, or one start against a guy who is really good. You've got to find a way to do something positive. Trying to find a way to get called up on a Tuesday, be in the lineup on a Wednesday and do well -- or I'll be gone on a Thursday. CP: At this point a lot of people are coming up to Oakland and succeeding. How encouraging is it to see that? And does it tell you 'hey I can do this too?' MT: I think it's a combination of a lot of things. One, those guys failed, re-evaluated what they needed to do, and came back and worked on it and are having success with a new plan now. Two, it's about going up there and getting comfortable. It's a really different world. Here, you are in one particular mode, and there, it is different. It's not a foreign clubhouse, but there are older guys and it's just a little bit different. I've been here for three years. I know everyone here, and I'm one of the older guys on the team. I go there and I am on the bottom of the totem pole. Getting comfortable in that reality, and comfortable with the coaching staff, and them getting to know you as a person, you getting to know them, and how you are going to interact with them so that your personality can come out. Because you can only be the best version of yourself if you can be who you are. In some people that manifests in an outgoing guy that doesn't care. You see a guy like A.J. Griffin that is very outgoing and boisterous, he is who he is, and he is always going to be that way. First day he walked in here, first day he walked up there, that's just who he is. That's part of the reason he's had so much success. Getting comfortable with your level and then adjusting with the level of competition. It's not the same. It's not the same guys, there's a reason they are major leaguers. They are really good. So you have to be that much better. CP: Do you look at September 1 coming up? Or do you try and forget about it? MT: I honestly haven't thought about September as being a viable option really. They already have several outfielders and are in a pennant run. Hopefully I can do enough and show enough that after our playoff run here they might want to use me as an asset in whatever possible way that might be. Whether that be bench depth, or a runner, or defense, or to give guys a break down the stretch. At the end of the day I really can't speculate on it because I don't know what they are thinking. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter for me because I know we'll make the playoffs and try and win a championship here in Sacramento. When that's done if they feel I can be used I'll be more than happy to give it my best shot. If not, I'll kind of go back to the drawing board and take what I have learned from this year and get better.

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – The A’s endured one of those nights Wednesday when the scoreboard couldn’t convey the extent of their blues.

The tone of an 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels was set early, when starting pitcher Sean Manaea left after two innings with what was announced as tightness in his throwing shoulder.

From there, things gradually unraveled as the A’s lost their third in a row and took on what looks to be another injury to a key player. The seriousness of Manaea’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but his early exit added to the recent run of medical misfortune, as center fielder Rajai Davis, shortstop Marcus Semien and starter Kendall Graveman have all hit the disabled list over the past 12 days.

Graveman will be activated Thursday and start against the Angels, but Manaea’s condition will loom large as the 25-year-old lefty is considered a foundation piece for the A’s, now and for the future.

The A’s trailed 4-3 in the seventh when the Angels pulled away with four runs off Ryan Dull. Matt Joyce’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled them closer but they lost for the second night in a row at Angel Stadium and will have to win Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Wednesday’s loss dropped them back below .500 at 10-11.

Starting pitching report:
It was obvious early that something was bothering Manaea. His fastball, which usually sits in the low 90’s and gets into the mid-90’s, was hovering in the 88-89 range. The A’s led 2-0 before the Angels struck for three runs in the second. Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado each delivered RBI doubles that landed just past the diving reach of right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker, respectively. Another run scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave up a run over 2 1/3 innings after being called into early duty when Manaea got hurt. Dull, trying to keep it a 4-3 game, did not have his command in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, hit Danny Espinosa with a 1-2 pitch and then allowed Maybin’s two-run single that keyed Los Angeles’ four-run seventh.

At the plate:
It was a big night for Yonder Alonso, who had a two-run single in the first and then homered in the sixth to pull Oakland within 4-3. Alonso already has four homers, putting more than halfway to his 2016 total of seven in the season’s first month. The A’s struck out 13 times, giving them 24 strikeouts over the first two games of this series.

In the field:
It took until the seventh inning for the A’s to be charged with an error that snapped their streak of six consecutive errorless games. Stephen Vogt couldn’t hold on to Dull’s glove flip on Martin Maldonado’s squeeze bunt. But even before then, this wasn’t a sharp defensive effort. Joyce got caught off guard in the fourth when Maybin tagged up and made it to second on a fly to right. Joyce’s gesturing afterward seemed to suggest nobody was letting him now the runner was tagging. An inning later, Decker seemed stunned as the lumbering Albert Pujols went first to third on Andrelton Simmons’ single.

Attendance:
The announced crowd was 30,248.

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.00) is set to come off the D.L. on Thursday and make his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76), who took the Opening Night loss against the A’s at the Coliseum when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

 

Manaea exits A's game in Anaheim with left shoulder tightness

Manaea exits A's game in Anaheim with left shoulder tightness

ANAHEIM — A’s starter Sean Manaea left Wednesday night’s game after two innings with tightness in his throwing shoulder.

It’s a troubling sign for an Oakland rotation that’s already been hit hard by injuries.

The A’s are about to welcome back Kendall Graveman from his own shoulder issue — he’s scheduled to come off the disabled list and pitch Thursday night. Sonny Gray’s return from a lat injury could come next week if he emerges from Thursday’s Triple-A rehab start OK.

But if Manaea goes on the shelf for any period of time, it certainly cancels out a portion of that optimism. The 25-year-old lefty usually sits in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball. Throughout Wednesday’s start, his fastball was in the 88-89 mile-per-hour range, only registering as high as 90 a handful of times. Manaea gave up three runs in the second inning against the Angels. For the season, he’s 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA in five starts.

More information should be coming after the game. The A’s trailed the Angels 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth.