03/01/2013 7:19 PM ET
After extra work, Taylor gets first knock of spring
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Though still in the early goings of camp, Michael Taylor's struggles at the plate had become apparent.
So the A's outfielder, hitless in his first 10 spring at-bats, stayed back at the club's facilities on Thursday to clock in hours of work with hitting coach Chili Davis, rather than taking the bus to Mesa, Ariz., for a chance to come off the bench against the Cubs.
Turns out that decision was a good one. Taylor and Davis "found some things," manager Bob Melvin said, and on Friday against the Giants, Taylor collected his first hit of the spring.
"He hasn't been swinging the bat like he'd like, and he's been getting quite the opportunity to play a bit," Melvin said. "He's been behind the fastball, ahead of the breaking ball a little bit, taking the strikes and swinging at the balls. That's what happens when you're in between."
Taylor, the A's No. 12 prospect, is 27 years old. He has 654 Minor League games under his belt, next to just 17 big league appearances that have resulted in a .176 batting average. Making a good impression in the final weeks of camp, needless to say, is imperative for Taylor, who will likely again begin the year at Triple-A Sacramento.
He's done so each of the past three years.
"We've got a lot of spring left, and there's a lot of time for him to find his stroke and move forward," Melvin said. "Last year, he didn't get the opportunity he would've liked when he was here. He wants to knock the door down the next time he's at the big league level and stay."
Trio of relievers sees first action of spring
PHOENIX -- Lost in the fray of a 13-9 defeat to the Giants on Friday were the debuts of three A's relievers who played significant roles in the club's 2012 success.
Jerry Blevins, who compiled a career-high 65 1/3 innings last year, was the first to come out of the bullpen. The lefty was shaky in his first outing -- not uncommon for pitchers getting a feel for game action again -- and allowed two earned runs (three total) on four hits with a strikeout before being pulled after just two outs.
Blevins' teammates fared better.
There was righty Ryan Cook, who as a rookie split time between the setup and closer roles last year. He walked one in an otherwise solid frame, and lefty Sean Doolittle followed with a rather clean inning of his own, allowing one hit.
Both pitchers threw over 70 innings last season, which is why the team was in no rush to have them pitch in games this spring.
A's closer Grant Balfour, meanwhile, doesn't appear too far off from his own debut. Just two weeks removed from minor knee surgery, Balfour threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Friday. He's expected to throw a few more bullpen sessions before getting into Cactus League action.
• A's outfielder Chris Young, held out of game action since Sunday because of a quad cramp, was back in the lineup Sunday and collected two hits. He also made a nice catch in center field.
"Yeah, he ran just fine," Melvin said, smiling.
• Outfield prospect Michael Choice continues to impress this spring. The A's 2010 first-round Draft pick went 2-for-2 on Friday and is now 8-for-16 (.500) in six games.