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.

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s general manager David Forst flies home Thursday afternoon, and unless there’s a drastic change in the final stages of the winter meetings, he’ll still be searching for a center fielder.

Wednesday’s events included some discussion between Oakland and other parties, but no concrete progress toward landing a center fielder. That’s despite the late-breaking news Tuesday that the A’s and Royals were talking trade for fleet-footed Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“It’s a two-way street with a free agent or a team, a function of the other side’s pace,” Forst said. “It’s unlikely (they complete a deal at the meetings), and not for lack of conversations or lack of ideas. Just things move at different speeds.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean the chance of landing Dyson is done. Forst pointed out talks which transpire at the winter meetings sometimes materialize into a deal down the road. But it’s also worth noting that the Baltimore Orioles are pursuing Dyson too. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that Baltimore and Kansas City have discussed him.

Therefore, consider the A’s as players in the free agent as well as trade markets.

“We’ve cast a wide net,” Forst said.

Two free agent center fielders came off the board Wednesday as the Rockies agreed to a five-year $70 million contract with Ian Desmond and the Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez to a one-year $11.5 million deal. Desmond was assumed to be out of the A’s price range, but Gomez was thought to be a realistic target. He opted to return to Texas, which needed to do some outfield re-stocking after losing Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who like Gomez was an in-season acquisition for the Rangers in 2016.

The three most enticing free agents left now at the position appear to be Dexter Fowler — like Desmond, expected to command a pricey multi-year deal — former Athletic Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson.

As for other needs, the A’s would add a veteran starting pitcher at the right price and could look to upgrade at second base, though neither of those is as high a priority as landing someone to anchor the middle of their outfield.

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Manager Bob Melvin addressed reporters at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Though A’s top baseball official Billy Beane said Tuesday the organizational focus was on the future, aiming for a strong team to be in place by the time the A’s potentially move into a new ballpark, Melvin’s attention is solely on the upcoming season.

“In 2012, we had I don't know how many rookies on that team. It was all rookie starters, and we ended up winning the division,” Melvin said. “Once you start the season, the focus is all about winning.”

**

Should the A’s not bring in a center fielder who can also lead off, the first in-house candidate Melvin mentioned as perhaps hitting atop the order was Joey Wendle. He gave a nice showing of himself in a September call-up and hit leadoff for a stretch, but there’s no guarantee that Wendle even starts at second base next season, especially if veteran Jed Lowrie is healthy after foot surgery.

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Former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has rejoined Oakland’s staff as Melvin’s third-base coach, and Melvin has plenty of confidence that Hale will capably fill Ron Washington’s shoes as the infield instructor. Washington was popular with A’s infielders and had particular success working with shortstop Marcus Semien.

Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach before getting hired by Arizona before the 2015 season.

“Obviously we've talked a lot about Wash and what he's meant to some of these younger guys,” Melvin said. “We feel like if anybody can replace Wash, it's Chip Hale.”

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Forst said John Axford will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks has not yet committed to Team Australia.

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Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, was examined by A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta on Wednesday and his recovery is going very well. He’s between throwing programs right now. Forst added that lefty Felix Doubront is also coming back well from the same procedure.

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Matt Holliday spent the first half of the 2009 season in Oakland.

Apparently, he has no desire to return.

In his one-year, $13 million contract with the Yankees that was finalized on Wednesday, Holliday has a limited no-trade clause that protects him from being traded to only the A's, according to SB Nation.

Holliday was acquired by the A's following the 2008 season for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith.

But he only played in 93 games with the A's before they dealt him to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson.

The 37-year-old spent the last seven full seasons with the Cardinals.