TACOMA – Chris Taylor watched as the rain pelted the tarped infield of Cheney Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
While his friends and one-time teammates on the Mariners enjoyed a rare home off day, Taylor was in uniform preparing to play on a rain-soaked field in mid-40-degree temperatures.
If you think about it, he was possibly one pitch away from being with them instead.
On March 13 in a Cactus League game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Taylor was struck on the wrist by a fastball from reliever Jim Henderson. The umpire ruled it a foul ball. A frustrated Taylor, with his hand still stinging in pain, singled up the middle on the next pitch.
But that “foul ball” resulted in a broken wrist bone for Taylor, and it ended a closely contested battle for starting shortstop. Brad Miller became the opening-day shortstop, and Taylor started the season on the disabled list and was eventually optioned to Tacoma.
“You just have to put it behind you,” Taylor said. “I’m just trying to move on. Whatever happened in the past is done. Now I’m just working on preparing myself to be the best player I can be now. And be ready to perform if my name is called.”
Taylor won’t allow himself to dwell on it. He knows that playing the what-if game will only take away from his preparation. He remains focused on the immediate future.
“That’s kind of what I’ve always done – take it one day at a time,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back on the field and playing again. That’s all you can do is just focus on what you can control. Right now, that’s going out there and playing my game. Whatever happens will happen.”
What’s happening for Taylor is the feeling of being completely healthy and the rhythm of the game returning to him.
The hand is not an issue.
“It feels good,” he said. “I don’t even feel it anymore. I’m back to 100 percent.”
Taylor is hitting .279 with a .791 on-base plus slugging percentage with a double, a homer and five RBIs.
“He’s healthy and swinging the bat really well,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He’s had some tough luck. He’s hit some balls real hard and hadn’t gotten anything to show for it.”
Taylor is 7 for 24 with a homer on the Rainiers’ homestand and is starting to feel better at the plate after the long layoff from games.
“There was definitely the adjustment to seeing live pitching again,” he said. “And I had to make some adjustments to my approach and getting back into that game mentality and trusting the approach I’ve always had. Since we got home from Albuquerque, I’ve felt a lot better. The game is starting to slow down a little bit and I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”
Listach has been impressed with Taylor’s attitude and how he carries himself.
“He’s been a leader,” Listach said. “That’s what big leaguers do. They come down here and do what needs to be done. It’s out of his control, to be honest. The only thing he can do is go out and play. I was told this a long time ago: It’s not where you play but how you play. If you play well enough you’ll be in the (majors), and he’s playing well enough to be back in the big leagues whenever the timing is right for him or they need him. He’s going to be ready. His approach to the game is professional.”
Jones on the mend
It if wasn’t for broken blood vessels in his left eye and a small wound under it, you would think everything is normal for James Jones.
But it isn’t.
The young outfielder suffered a concussion on a nasty collision on a head-first slide into the knee of third baseman Brett Wallace in Tacoma’s home opener April 17.
“I remember some parts of it,” Jones said. “Everything went black.”
Listach was coaching third and saw the play unfold in front of him.
“It really scared me because he wasn’t responding,” he said. “I was calling his name, ‘Jonesy, Jonesy,’ and he wasn’t responding. I got nothing from him. I didn’t know how serious it was going to be because he wasn’t moving.”
He spent the night in the hospital and felt the effects in the days after. Jones has yet to be cleared for any baseball activity.
“I’m bored right now,” he said.
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