A's Taylor dealing with Triple-A limbo


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.

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest


A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

The A’s announced a shuffling in their upcoming starting rotation, with Daniel Gossett being called up from Triple-A to start Wednesday at Baltimore and Sean Manaea being pushed back to get some extra rest.

Following Thursday’s day off, Kendall Graveman will now take the ball in Friday’s series opener against Texas at the Coliseum, with Manaea going Saturday. That gives Manaea three extra days of rest from his originally scheduled turn Wednesday. The lefty has seen his fastball velocity diminish in recent starts, even though he had better results Friday at Houston, when he went six innings and gave up three runs.

Gossett was sent down to Nashville on Aug. 3 because the A’s had an upcoming day off in the schedule and they wanted him to keep pitching on turn in the minors. He’s coming off back-to-back strong starts in the minors, striking out 16 with just four earned runs over 12 innings.

Inserting Gossett into the rotation will temporarily give the A’s six starters and also provide a little extra rest for Paul Blackburn, who left Tuesday’s start against Baltimore in the fifth inning after he was struck on the right wrist/hand area by a line drive. X-rays afterward showed no fracture, and Blackburn appeared visibly relieved by that as he addressed reporters in Baltimore after the A’s 6-4 win.

“It’s definitely sore, but I got X-rays and they were negative, so that’s good,” Blackburn said. “But it’s definitely sore. I’m just glad it’s not broken. When I was out there, I couldn’t move my hand. I couldn’t squeeze.”

He said he was hopeful of being able to make his next start but did not know the chances of that.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles


The A’s showed they can make themselves at home in one of the majors’ most homer-happy ballparks.

A day after Baltimore homered four times, Oakland did the same at Camden Yards to power to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles. Ryon Healy went deep twice and continued his hot streak of late, and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis also homered. The win ended the day on a good note for the A’s, but they hope they don’t get bad news on starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.

He left the game in the fifth after getting hit on the right wrist by a liner. After the game, manager Bob Melvin said Blackburn has a bruised hand/wrist.

Healy has a 10-game hitting streak, and he’s hitting .375 over his past 14 contests. He entered the night having homered just twice over his last 41 games.

The A’s led 5-2 in the eighth before Baltimore rallied for two runs, helped by a missed check-swing appeal call, on which first base ump Angel Hernandez didn’t ring up Tim Beckham on what appeared to be a sure third strike on replays. That extended the inning and made for a tense ninth inning, but the A’s improved to 2-3 on this six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday afternoon.

EARLY EXIT: Blackburn, after getting knocked around a bit in his previous two starts, was locked in Tuesday and impressed through four scoreless innings. Then Trey Mancini led off the bottom of the fifth by lining a comebacker that appeared to hit Blackburn flush near his right wrist. He walked around the mound in obvious pain as A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta came out to check on him. Blackburn was removed from the game.

EXTENDED DUTY AGAIN: When the Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs, closer Blake Treinen was summoned from the bullpen in the eighth for the second time in three games. He ended the eighth and stranded three by retiring Adam Jones on a groundout. The bottom of the ninth began with a throwing error from shortstop Chad Pinder, but Treinen closed out the game with help from a 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout of Chris Davis.

UNDERRATED PLAY OF THE GAME: Treinen got the ground ball he needed with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. But it came down to Matt Olson making a great scoop at first base when Pinder short-hopped his throw across the diamond.

ENCORE FROM JED: Jed Lowrie homered for the second day in a row, and the A’s went deep four times total. Along with Healy’s two blasts, Khris Davis connected for his 34th of the season in the top of the ninth to make it a 6-4 game and provide some breathing room.

CONTINUING TO IMPRESS: It was an eventful day for Boog Powell even before he took the field. He enjoyed some barbecue with former Orioles slugger Boog Powell, the man who inspired his own nickname. Then those two held a Face Time chat with a third “Boog” Powell, — a youngster from Tennessee who played in the Little League World Series.

Then Powell, hitting leadoff for the second time in three games, singled in his first two at-bats and scored a run. He’s continued to find ways to provide the A’s a spark since being called up from Triple-A Nashville.