The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Washington Nationals - INSIDE PITCH

WASHINGTON -- First-year manager Matt Williams got to see a little bit of outfielder Michael A. Taylor in spring training. And he liked what he saw, including a nice back-handed catch near the foul pole in left field after a long run.

But Williams said the biggest surprise for him since Taylor was called up from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday was the power he has at the plate.

"He has the ability to drive the ball the other way," Williams said of Taylor, who made his Nationals Park debut on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Taylor was drafted as a shortstop by the Nationals and then made the move to the outfield early in his pro career.

He hit 10 homers last year for Class A Advanced Potomac of the Carolina League, but he hit 22 homers in 102 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season.

Taylor hit his first major league homer on Tuesday in New York against Carlos Torres of the Mets in his first big league start.

"He has more power than I thought he would have," Williams said.

Taylor was 2-for-10 before going hitless in four at bats Friday as his average went to .143.

With veteran right fielder Jayson Werth bothered by a sore right shoulder, Taylor got the start in right on Friday and hit in the No. 8 hole against the Pirates.

Taylor should not be confused with the Michael Taylor, who played in the majors with the Oakland A's from 2011-13. That Taylor now plays in Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox farm system.

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MLB Team Report - Washington Nationals - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 67-53

STREAK: Won four

NEXT: Pirates (LHP Jeff Locke, 4-3, 3.98 ERA) at Nationals (LHP Gio Gonzalez, 6-9, 4.00 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP Tanner Roark made the start on Friday against the Pirates. He entered the game with a lifetime ERA of 1.99 in 90 2/3 innings at Nationals Park. He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and got the win and improved to 12-7 this season. "Overall I felt good. We got the win. Confidence is high in this clubhouse," Roark said. "I try to put zeroes up on the board. The change up was good." Roark may not have had his best stuff but he prevailed. "He has a knack of keeping it together. That is what the great ones do," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. Said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle: "He throws his fastball a high percentage of the time. He also mixes in more changeup than breaking balls to left-handers and more sliders than a curveball to right-handers."