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Brewers' Tyrone Taylor still plugging away almost decade later
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Brewers' Tyrone Taylor still plugging away almost decade later

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It’s hard to believe Tyrone Taylor has spent nearly a decade in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

Even Taylor seemed almost shocked by that reality when it was mentioned to him Monday.

“It’s crazy,” Taylor said. “It has been a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had some injuries, I’ve had some good seasons, some bad ones. I’m just thankful for the journey I’ve been on and thankful that I’ve learned to enjoy the journey itself, and be able to be here right now.”

Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Taylor has yet to completely break through at the major league level. The slow progress would leave many players frustrated, but Taylor doesn’t give the impression he’s remotely bothered. Though he admits there have been times when he wondered if it was time to move on.

“Whether it was because of baseball or personal life things that were happening at the time, I’m sure most of us have gone through that,” Taylor said. “It’s just part of it, and you learn how to overcome it and keep on rolling. Keep on showing up.”

His best season came in 2019, when he batted .269 with 14 home runs and a .795 OPS for Class AAA San Antonio, a performance that earned Taylor his first big league call-up that September. He went 4-for-10 with two doubles in 15 games, putting himself into the mix for a spring training roster spot in 2020.

Those plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic brought baseball to a halt. He was added to Milwaukee’s 60-man player pool but spent most of the season at the team’s alternate training site in Appleton, where action was limited to individual work and intrasquad games.

It wasn’t an ideal situation for young players looking to earn their way to the big leagues. But with so many other players at home due to the cancellation of minor league seasons, Taylor knew it was still an opportunity.

“I felt you had a choice,” Taylor said. “You could either go there and have a bad attitude about it and not do anything and complain, or you go there and get better. That’s what we all did. Everybody was on the same page there. The coaching staff knew we were there to get better and they also reminded us what we needed to work on. It was just a good time and good people.”

Taylor earned another September call-up and posted a .793 OPS with two home runs and six RBIs in 22 games. He figured to be a leading candidate for a backup outfield spot going into this spring but was presented with another challenge when the Brewers added outfielders Billy McKinney and Derek Fisher — former high draft picks who are out of minor league options — to their spring training roster.

Again, Taylor is unfazed.

“I go out there every day and try to be the best version of myself,” Taylor said. “My attitude any given day is to go out there and try to get better. That’s one of the things I learned about being here for so long. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. You control what you can control.”

Taylor got off to a good start in Cactus League play, hitting a home run in Milwaukee’s opener Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.

“Ultimately, it’s on the player to be the one who gets himself up every day and does the work and seeks out ways to improve,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think that’s what Tyrone did. It’s clear he had a great offseason. He worked very hard.”

On the field

Manny Piña had two hits, including a two-run home run in the first inning, as the Brewers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 on Monday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Piña’s homer was Milwaukee’s fifth through two Cactus League games and the fourth hit by a player in his first spring at-bat.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Counsell said.

Corbin Burnes (1-0) struck out two batters and fellow right-hander Freddy Peralta struck out three while allowing a hit and a walk in the second inning. Seven Brewers pitchers combined to hold the Diamondbacks to four hits while striking out 10.

Arizona scored its only run in the third on an RBI single by Asdrúbal Cabrera. It was one of three hits allowed by right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, an Auburndale native who signed a minor league deal last month.

“I thought Jordan did fine,” Counsell said. “He threw a bunch of two-seam fastballs. That’s something he’s experimenting with a little bit more. This is the first outing and we’re just trying to establish some foundation moving forward.”

Outfielder Garret Mitchell, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in last summer’s draft, singled in his first at-bat.

“I think it was a fun day for him,” Counsell said. “His first major league spring training game, first day playing in front of fans with a Brewers uniform on. ... I think he had 3-4 flyballs and a nice at-bat for a base hit. It was probably a fun day more than anything.”

Wall additions

Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Gómez and Francisco Rodríguez will be added to the Wall of Honor at American Family Field this summer, the Brewers announced.

Gallardo was the Brewers’ second-round pick in 2004 and over eight seasons set the franchise’s strikeouts record (1,226) while going 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in 214 appearances.

Gómez spent six of his 13 major league seasons in Milwaukee, batting .267 with 87 home runs and 288 RBIs with the Brewers.

Rodriguez spent five of his 16 major league seasons with the Brewers, recording 95 saves and earning two of All-Star appearances.

Induction on the Wall of Honor is based on predetermined statistical and service-time benchmarks.

From the infirmary

Right-hander Brandon Woodruff was originally announced as the starter Tuesday when the Brewers host the Oakland Athletics, but he is being pushed back a few days because of a sore back.

“It’s minor,” Counsell said. “We’re maybe 2-3 days behind, but he’s thrown his live (batting practice already).”

On deck

With Woodruff out, right-hander Josh Lindblom will start Tuesday for Milwaukee while the Athletics will counter with right-hander Parker Dunshee.

Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona

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