Michael Taylor Departs For (Oak)Land Of Opportunity





OAKLAND—When the phone rang early on Dec. 16, it was the call Michael Taylor had been both dreading and expecting. He knew the Phillies were stacked with corner outfielders and that he was trade bait. He just did not know what an adventure that day would become.

"I awoke to a call from (Phillies assistant general manage) Chuck LaMar," Taylor said. "He congratulated me on my services to the organization and told me I had been traded to the Blue Jays. He told me there was the possibility of another trade. About 20 minutes later, I got the call that I was traded to Oakland (straight up for Brett Wallace)."

The complex, four-team, nine-player string of transactions that landed Roy Halladay in Philadelphia and Cliff Lee in Seattle ultimately meant that Taylor was headed for familiar territory. The Floridian had spent three years at Stanford, where he gained a fondness for the Bay Area.

"I have probably gone to more Oakland A's games than any other team," Taylor said.

"It was kind of a surreal morning. I got to talk to (GM) Billy Beane a little about baseball and about Stanford. He seemed excited to have me in the organization. He said he was set on bringing me over, so he went out and did it. It's exciting that he wanted me on his team."

A fifth-round pick in 2007, Taylor batted a composite .320/.395/.549 last season in making his way to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It's a fitting final chapter to a Phillies career in which he seemed to improve on a daily basis.

Taylor, 24, said that he still is learning to control his 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame. "I had the size, but I had to gain strength. The last couple of years, I can do things with my body that I couldn't do before."

He said that he has become a gym rat, spending much of his offseason trying to develop the type of strength and coordination that will generate more power to go with his high averages.

Striving for improvement is not strictly a physical, on-field endeavor for Taylor.

"One cool thing about baseball is that you're never done mentally improving," he said. "I really thought I knew a lot about baseball. Then I went to Triple-A. I was talking to guys 10 years older than me and found out how much I don't know."

A's ACORNS

• The A's invited outfielder Corey Brown to big league camp, using the place reserved for Grant Desme, who retired to enter the priesthood.

• The organization's Dominican Republic camp, headed by Ruben Escalara, began in late January and was to continue until the start of spring training. The goal: to prepare players physically and mentally to play in the U.S.