For the past 10 years, the Sacramento River Cats have been one of the most successful franchises at…
Taylor's Tales: New Beginnings
This was the first time I had ever spent any amount of significant time in the Phoenix area and the town quickly grew on me. I absolutely loved the weather and the baseball atmosphere in Scottsdale is feverish. It is always a little nerve racking to go to a new place but more so this year as I switched organizations and was eager to show the abilities I was blessed with. The difficulty in that for me is that nothing about baseball comes particularly natural for me. I am not one of those players who can roll out of bed and "rake," so there is always a grace period I give myself to work out the kinks and slow down the hardest game on the planet. At the same time, you want to show that you can compete if not right away, down the road at the major league level.
This year was my first big league spring training so there was another challenge. In my first two minor league spring trainings, I usually struggled quite a bit early so you can imagine the challenge that a higher level of competition can provide. The key for me though was trying to be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge that the players with experience exuded and coaches were preaching. In doing that I was able to make small strides daily towards putting together the swing and game I will open the season with tonight.
One of the first things you have to do as a young player is get over the star struck factor. When you are facing a guy you have watched on TV, pitched with on "MLB the Show" or drafted in fantasy baseball, it is your first reaction to say "wow" internally. But as camp wore on they started to become just another opponent and those nerves subsided. After that happened it was all about getting ready for me and learning the speed of the game. Mistakes are definitely amplified at the Major League level but it's still the same game.
I have my own method that I go through to get myself ready for a season and it's a little different than a lot of guys. Early on in camp most guys like to see pitches and get control of their strike zone. I actually like to swing as much as possible. Finding my game swing is the most important thing for me during the first few weeks of spring. I can go to the cage, hit off the tee and take front toss and put together calm, controlled swings early on but the only way for me to transfer all that work over is to swing at pitches being thrown at me and swing often. Sometimes that leads to me striking out often early and swinging a little big but it gives me the barometer I need to cut back and control my swing down the road. After I feel like I am getting a good tempo to my swing I start to work on my pitch selection. Basically, I want to swing at strikes. After some time, which usually overlaps into the season, I begin to look for pitches and really start playing that game with the pitcher where I am trying to know what he is going to throw me.
When I was sent down from big league camp I started to feel a little more in control and that carried over to minor league camp, especially as I got the chance to get three and four at-bats everyday for four or five days in a row. I now feel prepared to start the season and hopefully that means I can get off to a pretty decent start, but if not, that's why we get 500 or 600 at-bats, so I will be quick to try and make the right adjustments.
As far as the season goes, I am excited about the outlook for the River Cats. We have a wealth of talent and I really think we will swing the bats well one through nine. Offensively we should be a difficult lineup to pitch to and our staff seems to throw strikes. Those are usually recipes for success but there is nothing like getting out there during the season so we will all find out very soon. Thank you for reading my thoughts and I look forward to answering any questions or comments you may have in the future. Go Cats!
Have questions or comments for Michael? Send them into firstname.lastname@example.org.
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