Chris Taylor is doing work as Dodgers’ out-of-nowhere, anonymous star

The Dodgers have a bright young star on their roster under the age of 30.No, it’s not Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puigor Clayton Kershaw.It’s Chris Taylor.If you don’t know Chris Taylor, you’re not alone.Coming into Todd Frazier Jersey this season, the majority of fans acro s MLB had never heard of the utility player from Virginia Beach, Va.After all, he’d never played in more than 47 games in a season since breaking into the big leagues in 2014 with the Mariners, and he didn’t exactly put up eye-popping numbers during those games.MORE: Dodgers put Cody Bellinger, Alex Wood on DLEntering the 2017 season, Taylor had hit only one home run in 383 major league at-bats.So, it’s no surprise that when the Dodgers sent Zack Lee to Seattle in June 2016and received Taylor in return, not many people noticed.That should no longer be the case.Having played in 105 games this season, Taylor .310 batting averageis second on one of baseball’s best offensive clubs, and has belted an impre sive 17 home runs with 61 RBIs.He also has a WAR of 4.5, good for 13th in all of MLB, according to the Fangraphsvariation.But how did this happen?How did Taylor go from being a tradeafterthought to one of the biggest offensive weapons in the NL West in just a little more than a year?The mechanical changes I made to my swing are the biggest thing, I think, Taylor told Sporting News this weekbefore a matchup with the Pirates.Before this season, Taylor utilized what would be considered a traditional stance and swing at the plate, keeping his feet square with a basic load and stride mechanism to time each pitch.However, he decided to make some changes during the winter.I did some work this offseason with one of our hitting guys, and added a leg kick, Taylor said.My hands are also a little different; I added some rhythm to my hands, and tried to change my [bat] path a little bit to get on-plane a little earlier. The changes have enabled Taylor to increase his productivity in nearly every offensive category.The biggest jump, however, has come in his power numbers.Standing 6-1 and weighing under 200 pounds, Taylor has awiry, yet athleticframe that doesn’t seem like that of the traditional home run hitter.Instead, he comes acro s as the type of player who will consistently put the ball in play and occasionally hit a mistake-pitch over the fence. And until this offseason, that’s exactly what he was.Butthe added leg kick and rhythm in his hands have allowed him to get the most out of his body and he’s reaping the rewards.I think [the changes] increased my bat-speed, he said. I’m getting the barrel on the ball more consistently.That bat speed, he said, has allowed him to hit the ball with more authority.And that’s been bad news for opposing pitchers so far this season.It’s easy to see how Taylor could have gone overlooked to this point, given the plethora of talented and well-known players on the Dodgers’ roster.After all, Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the game today, and may go down as one of the best to ever pick up a baseball.Bellinger has captured headlines all season for a power surge of his own and is the frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year, and Puig has been one of the most recognizable and talked about players in MLB since he debuted in 2013.MORE: Every MLB team’s worst regular season memory, revisitedYet, Taylor said, the Dodgers’ stockpile of talenthas aided his offensive progre sion, not hindered it.We have a lot of good, veteran guys that have been around awhile, he said Tom Seaver Jersey . I try to pick their brains whenever I can.Specifically, Taylor referenced Justin Turner as a teammate he seeks out for advice on his swing.Upon hearing his name mentioned as one of Taylor’s de facto swing doctors, Turner, who was seated two lockers down in the visitors’ locker room at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, laughed and jokingly exclaimed, You don’t have to lie just because I’m sitting right here!Despite his playful objections, the similarities between the two players and their career arcs suggest Taylor has learned a lot from Turner.For starters, like Taylor, Turner isn’t the biggest player in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, but still gets the most bang for his buck, as he’s tallied 50 home runs over the past three seasons.Turner also added an exaggerated leg kick to his swing a few years into his major league careerand saw a huge uptick in production and power because of it.Whether it was incidental or deliberate, the fact remains: Taylor has learned quite a lot from his redheaded teammate, and as far as mentor’s go, Turner isn’t a bad one to have;the 32-year-oldleads the NLwith a .336 average.As to the notion that he is not receiving the attention that his play warrants, Taylor is unconcerned.In fact, he disagrees with the premise entirely.I think you can look at it either way, he said. As a team we’re in the spotlight a lot because we have so many great players. … We have so many good players, everybody is going to get some attention.If Taylor continues to produce at the plate at his current level, hemay find that spotlight a little brighter in the future.

Yankees’ Brett Gardner, Rays’ Rickie Weeks leave game after violent collision

A scary moment occurred Wednesday in the sixth inning of the Yankees-Rays game when New York outfielder Brett Gardner violently collided with Rickie Weeks at first base.Former Southern star Rickie Weeks involved in one of most violent collisions you’ll see at first base. Both he and Brett Gardner leave game Eric Richey (@Erichonsports) April 12, 2017 Gardner, who initiated the contact like an NFL safety, laid by first base for a couple of minutes before eventually walking off under his own power.Ronald Torreyes came on to pinch-run.Both players were forced to leave the game; Logan Morrison took over at first base for the Rays.The Yankees later announced Gardner suffered a bruised jaw and a strained neck in the collision.The Yankees have already dealt with a number of injuries asshortstopDidi Gregorius(strained shoulder), catcherGary Sanchez(strained biceps) and first basemanGreg Bird(bruised ankle) have all mi sed time.

Now in a Braves uniform, Bartolo Colon shows Mets he hasn’t changed

Bartolo Colon did him Wednesday night, as he does. At this point in his career, why should he do anything different?Colon shut out the Mets over six innings in his return to Citi Field. Six innings after he left, Mets reliever Rafael Montero served up a tiebreaking two-run double to Matt Kemp that gave the Braves a 3-1 win.STATS: Braves-Mets Game CenterBut forget about Montero (Mets fans want to, after watching him stumble his way to a lo s); the night was all about Big Sexy.Mets fans let Colon know they still love him for it. And Bartolo let ‘em know he loves them, too. “To be honest, I do feel at home here. We had a great relationship,” Colon said through a translator, per The A sociated Pre s. “I definitely wanted to show my appreciation.”But not too much appreciation, because there was a ballgame to win. Colon did his part, Randy Johnson Jersey of course,by carving up the Mets’ hitters.MLB ROUNDUP: Extra effort for three winnersHe dared them to hit his a sortment of fastballs, and they couldn’t. New York managed just two hits, one a wall-scraping solo homer by Jay Bruce, and one walk. Colon fanned six during his 80-pitch stint.”He is what he is. We sat there in about the fourth inning and we said, ‘Well, this is vintage Bartolo,'” Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, per the AP.Bartolo Colon greets Yoenis Cespedes. (Getty Images)Vintage is about the perfect word for Big Bart. Now in his age 44 season, he still looks like the Bart who saved the Mets’ rotation last year when the studs not named Syndergaard were hurt or bad or both. Colon led New York with 33 starts and 191 2/3 innings in 2016.The Mets had the pitching depth to let Colon walk in the offseason, and he strolled straight into a division rival’s dugout. Wednesday, he began earning the $12.5 million on his one-year contract.MORE: Mets more popular than Yanks in NY, survey saysThe Braves are counting on Colon, R.A. Dickey (another former Met) and Jaime Garcia to help them get through at least the first half of the season. At this point, would it shock anyone if Colon is the last man standing?After what Colon did the past three seasons in New York (44 wins, 588 2/ Felix Hernandez Jersey 3 innings) and again Wednesday night there, it’s almost to be expected.