Tay­lor makes most of week­end chance

The Tribune (SLO) - - Sports - BY JORGE CASTILLO

Per­haps the player most af­fected by A.J. Pol­lock’s el­bow in­jury is Chris Tay­lor. Pre­vi­ously in a strict pla­toon in left field with Joc Ped­er­son, the righthanded hit­ter’s play­ing time should climb un­til Pol­lock re­turns or a move is made to fill his va­cancy. So far, Tay­lor has cap­i­tal­ized.

Tay­lor was a con­stant in the Dodgers’ three come­backs against the San Diego Padres over the week­end. On Fri­day, he cracked a solo home run in the fifth in­ning. On Satur­day, he sin­gled and scored dur­ing their five-run sixth. And on Sun­day, he de­liv­ered a goa­head two-run homer in the eighth be­fore the Padres ral­lied in the ninth.

Tay­lor en­tered the series with one home run this sea­son – a solo shot April 1. He fin­ished the three-game set 7 for 13 af­ter go­ing 5 for 34 over his pre­vi­ous 15 games. His bat­ting av­er­age climbed 56 points, to .218 from .162, in 72 hours. His suc­cess length­ened a start­ing lineup that didn’t in­clude Cody Bellinger, base­ball’s best hit­ter for the first five weeks.

“I think he’s just get­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties to go out there and play,” Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said af­ter the Dodgers’ 8-5 loss Sun­day. “I think he’s tak­ing bet­ter swings. When he does get a ball in the strike zone, he’s get­ting it go­ing for

ward and not foul­ing it off or swing­ing through it. And when you start to get some hits, it breeds con­fi­dence.”

Tay­lor, 28, had been wait­ing for those re­sults. For the past month, as he strug­gled to pro­duce, Tay­lor said he has re­lent­lessly tin­kered with his me­chan­ics. He stud­ied video from 2017, at­tempt­ing to repli­cate how he looked when he bat­ted .288 with 21 home runs and an .850 on-base-plus­slug­ging per­cent­age in 140 games.

Work­ing with hit­ting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, who is cred­ited with pre­par­ing Tay­lor for that break­out cam­paign as a Dodgers hit­ting con­sul­tant, Tay­lor fo­cused on var­i­ous as­pects of his stance. Among them was eas­ing the ten­sion in his back el­bow and shoul­der. He wanted to stand more re­laxed and loose.

“It hasn’t re­ally shown much, but I’ve ac­tu­ally felt pretty good the last week or two,” Tay­lor said. “And I’m just try­ing to go up there and I’ve been work­ing on things in the cage and I felt like I’ve been re­ally close.”

Pol­lock un­der­went el­bow surgery last week, sidelin­ing him for an un­de­ter­mined but un­doubt­edly lengthy pe­riod of time. He was an es­tab­lished right-handed out­fielder join­ing a team that leaned left af­ter trad­ing Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. Pol­lock strug­gled early but his ab­sence has forced the Dodgers to rely on others to counter left­handed pitch­ing.

The Dodgers signed catcher Travis d’Ar­naud on Sun­day partly to add an­other right-handed hit­ter and Roberts said he could also play the in­field and out­field. But Tay­lor, who can play out­field, sec­ond base and short­stop, will con­tinue to get chances, es­pe­cially against left-handed pitch­ers.

“You can’t get caught up in the num­bers this early,” Tay­lor said. “You just got to go out there and try to help your team win a game any way you can.”

Chris Tay­lor

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