Taylor's Tales: Home Opener Looming

Taylor and the 'Cats are off and running.

A week of the minor league season is in the books and Michael Taylor and his Sacramento River Cats' teammates have finally made it back home. In this installment of Taylor's blog, he reflects on the first week of the season and anticipates the home opener at Raley Field. Taylor also answers some fan questions.

The opening week of the season is in the books and it was an eventful one. We finished 5 and 3, a solid start to a long season. As is the case with most Aprils the weather played an additional role in getting the season underway. With four games in Portland and Tacoma, we dealt with some rain and cold that Mr. Doubleday never intended when he created the game.

Most guys are pretty excited to get back into Sacramento so we can start setting up our apartments and have a place to finally store our belongings. I would say these first few weeks can be some of the most challenging as far as logistics are concerned because you're trying to find a place to live, become accustomed with a new town, a new travel schedule and, of course, just trying to find a rhythm with the game.

The first week didn't bring too many surprises. As I expected we have a lot of ability on this club and I am really looking forward to the point in the season when several of us are rolling at the same time. Personally, I got off to a great start in Portland and then struggled a little in Tacoma but for a notoriously slow starter, if you would have told me on Opening Night after 30 at-bats I'd be where I am at, I would have been sold.

Early in the season everyone is definitely trying to find that edge that allows them to get locked in every single plate appearance. I am very excited about the home opener in Sacramento. From what I have heard, a Friday night game at Raley Field can be quite the spectacle, so after playing the first eight games in relative obscurity with grey skies and no fan-fare I am excited to feel some energy from the fans.

It should be a great opening series and hopefully we can really heat up and go on a little run for a few weeks.

Now I will answer a few of the questions I received after last week's entry:

1) What is the hardest pitch for you to hit? Was there any pitch you saw in big league camp you hadn't seen before? - George L.

The hardest pitch for me to hit is a good pitch, to be honest with you. I think most hitters would agree that a well-placed, positioned anything is difficult to put in play, let alone do damage with. But if I had to pick one pitch that I would love to see taken out of the game, I would say any hard-throwing reliever with a splitter equals get him before you have to see that pitch. And no, no new surprises in big league camp.

2) Everyone has been talking about how powerful the River Cats' line-up is. Is this the best line-up you've ever played with? - Sam G.

Yeah I would say top-to-bottom this is without a doubt the most talented line-up I have ever been a part of. I think we have an explosive offense where at any point or time in the lineup we can really get it rolling and put up some crooked numbers in a hurry.

3) Has your approach to hitting changed at all since you came to the A's? Do they ask you to take more pitches or anything like that? - Peter H.

No my approach hasn't really changed. I mean my approach changes daily anyway depending on how I feel and who's on the hill, but as far as being mandated to take pitches that hasn't happened. The A's do not want you taking pitches, like every organization they want you swinging at strikes. Go figure……

4) Did you ever meet Ryan Howard when you were with the Phillies? Who is taller, you or him? - Jeff

I met Ryan once last year in Philly briefly when I received the Minor League Player of the Year award. I am a little taller than he is but not if he stands on his wallet.

Thanks everyone, see you next week.

Have questions for Michael? E-mail them, along with your name and last initial, to oaklandclubhouse@yahoo.com

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