LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor became a little more acquainted with the center-field wall at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.Taylor, a natural infielder, has been learning on the fly how to play the outfield because of an injury to center fielder Joc Pederson. Pederson was placed on the seven-day concussion
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor became a little more acquainted with the center-field wall at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
Taylor, a natural infielder, has been learning on the fly how to play the outfield because of an injury to center fielder Joc Pederson. Pederson was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list on May 25 after a collision with teammate Yasiel Puig. Taylor's defense was tested twice in the same inning during the Dodgers' 5-4 walk-off win against the Reds, and he gained some invaluable experience.
After Dodgers starter Alex Wood plunked Zack Cozart with a pitch, Reds' slugger Joey Votto smacked a fly ball deep to center field and Taylor tracked it down and made a leaping catch, crashing into the wall as he robbed Votto of a likely double.
"That's something I had to work on," Taylor said "getting comfortable near the wall. It's something I'm not used to, playing in the infield."
First-base coach and outfield coach George Lombard has worked extensively with Taylor to find some familiarity with the outfield wall, by practicing making catches near the warning track, Taylor said.
He's learned to not imagine the wall being in the outfield, and to prepare himself for anything.
"If you have time, it helps to take your eye off the ball as you're running back trying to gauge where the wall is," Taylor said. "You kind have to feel it out."
The second challenge for Taylor came after the Reds tied the game, with Scooter Gennett stepping to the plate with two outs. Gennett, who joined elite company earlier this week hitting four home runs in a game, belted a fly ball in Taylor's direction again.
Taylor tracked the fly ball down and comfortably made the catch at the wall to end the inning.
"The baseball acumen and the fearlessness," manager Dave Roberts said. "The willingness to work with George and work on his jumps and reads off the bat, can't say enough about him. That play he made for [Alex] Wood and for all of us. He's only going to get better."
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.