Brought to you from Comerica: Friday Inbox
Heading into this season, I knew that my first year on the A’s beat would present — well, many firsts. Covering a perfect game was definitely not one I expected, but, hey, I’ll take it. The firsts I was anticipating mostly had to do with the traveling aspect that comes along with the job. Every new city presents new streets, new restaurants and new hotels. And every ballpark comes along with new press boxes and new clubhouses — both of which usually take time finding. I’m not afraid to say I’ve always been directionally challenged. So I only wish that the Garmin GPS — the one I pack every time I’m in a city that requires I rent a car — came with directions to said press boxes and clubhouses. Trust me, these things aren’t always the easiest to locate, and matters are only made worse when you’re wandering aimlessly in search of these places while walking through 90-degree Texas heat, as I was a couple of weeks ago. Luckily, I usually give myself plenty of time my first day anyway in order to walk around a bit and get to know the ballpark as a fan. Today was no different, as I arrived at Comerica Park — home of the Tigers — with plenty time to kill before embarking on my “find the media entrance” journey.
It took less than two minutes for me to realize it could easily be one of my favorite parks out of the 12 I’ve seen so far. It’s got an abundance of character, not to mention gorgeous architecture and a classic unassuming baseball atmosphere. When I think of summer baseball, I picture it being played in a park like Comerica, which also boasts a great backdrop of downtown Detroit. What has made my first experience here all the more satisfying is the ease at which I made my way to the press box. Furthermore, the weather is perfect AND there’s a frozen yogurt machine right behind me. Any press dining room that offers fro yo gets the thumbs up from me.
Anyway, on the field we have a tied 3-3 game right now. Here’s a couple of questions that made its way to my Inbox this week while I was enjoying some rare time off:
Can we get an update on our prized prospects, Chris Carter and Michael Taylor? How are they doing in Triple-A? Do they have a shot at the bigs this season? Are they still the saviors of our offense?
— Jeff H., Fremont, Calif.
Well, Jeff, neither currently have numbers that scream “savior” for any club, even a powerless one like the A’s. Carter, though currently tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in RBIs (39) and third in home runs (10), is batting just .246 through 46 games with the River Cats. The good news is that he’s showing signs of the power hitter the A’s will eventually need, but the bad news is that he’s collected 57 strikeouts in 175 at-bats. Carter will need to show more discipline and create a better strike zone in order to demonstrate he can not only be a consistent hitter in the PCL but in the big leagues as well. He’s also been playing some outfield in an effort to strengthen his versatility, as we all know that goes a long way with the injury-prone A’s. That’s why Billy Beane likes guys like Adam Rosales, Eric Patterson and Jake Fox — guys who can play multiple positions. The club still sees Carter as a first baseman, but it’s only protecting its future by giving him starts in the outfield.
Taylor, meanwhile, hasn’t played a game since May 11 due to a strained calf and, as a result, has been doing nothing but resting since then. It’s one of those injuries that needs to be taken care of completely before being tested again with baseball activity. Otherwise, it’s likely going to stay with him all season. Luckily, Taylor has taken good care of himself during the past couple of weeks and could be lifted off the disabled list as soon as this weekend. Before being sidelined, he was posting similar numbers to those we’ve seen from Carter: .232 average, 22 RBI and 24 strikeouts in 125 at-bats. Needless to say, both still need plenty of seasoning before being deemed ready to make that jump to Oakland. I think both still have a shot at getting called up this year, but while I figured we might see them by June at the earliest, I now think that, if promoted, it won’t be ’til the end of the season, possibly as September callups.
Why the big hush-hush
about Braden’s ankle? Is there more going on than what is being reported?
— Jeanne P., Central Valley, Calif.
We’re talking about Braden here, the guy who has said in the past that it would take cutting off his numb left foot for him to never play again. So was I surprised to hear that he played with a sprained ankle? No. Do I think there’s more going on with it than a simple sprain? No. Braden is brutally honest with not only us media folk but also with himself, so if he knew he couldn’t help his team win that day, he would have said so beforehand. The guy has more guts than anyone I know, and I believe he assumed he’d be fine for his start. I also believe him when he says he’s ready to go again Sunday.