By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford grad Michael Taylor allowed many thoughts to flood his mind as he ran toward first base on Tuesday night. Once he reached the bag, he snapped out of his dream world and got himself back into the ballgame.
The former all-Pac-10 outfielder stood on first base at the Oakland Coliseum, his first major-league hit tucked safely in the back pocket of the Athletics' bat boy.
"Honestly it was a little surreal and kind of a relief," Taylor said. "A lot of things went through my mind and one of them was wondering if this moment would ever happen."
The single extended a ninth-inning rally for the Athletics, which fell short in a 7-4 loss to the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Still, it's a game Taylor will always remember. He's no longer 0-for-something. The man has a batting average (.167).
"It's always good to get the first one," A's manager Bob Melvin, a Menlo-Atherton grad, said. "It's a grind until you get it. He also made a nice running catch in the gap. You feel like you belong a little more."
Taylor has been waiting for this moment since he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Two years later he was named the best position player in the Phillies' farm system before a trade, also involving the Toronto Blue Jays, brought him to Oakland in December of 2009.
He made his major league debut on Friday night, and was playing in his third major league game.
"You always wonder what the situation will be, who will be pitching, things like that," Taylor said. "Now I can take a deep breath and go out and play. I'll take the hits any way they come. You work hard to hopefully have success in this game."
Taylor flew out to right, popped up to short and walked and scored a run before driving a pitch from Brandon Wood into center field.
"Now I'll work to get better," he said.
Taylor has also learned that playing right field in the big leagues is slightly more difficult than anywhere else and he's been working with Oakland coach Tye Waller on getting better reads on balls hit his way.
It helped in one situation against the Royals. Yamaico Navarro drove a line drive toward the right-center field fence with two runners on. Taylor got a good enough jump on the ball to freeze the runners, hold Navarro to a single on ball hit off the fence, and keep the Royals from scoring on the play.
"I was playing him in and over because I know him a little bit and I know he likes to hit to that gap," Taylor said. "He put a good swing on it but I thought I had a chance to catch it. Then I just wanted to hit Jemile (Weeks) on the run. The ball got away but luckily nothing happened."
Taylor has been trying to stay so focused in the field, and position himself correctly, that some of the fans are starting to call him 'O.C.D.'
"In the minors you never play in a closed stadium," Taylor said. "It's an open air stadium and the wind only blows one way. Here you never know what the wind might do. Balls carry better and I have to play deeper and take deeper routes. I'm trying to get locked in, get my assignments right and make sure I'm the right position."
After a few games in the outfield he's starting to feel comfortable. After getting his first hit, he could be feeling better at the plate too.