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Michael Taylor playing his way into Nats’ outfield mix

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Michael Taylor seemed destined for a bench role once the Nationals acquired Ben Revere from the Blue Jays in January. Defending National League MVP Bryce Harper has claim to right field and $126 million man Jayson Werth, finally healthy, would handle left field.

But Taylor has had a very productive spring, batting .485 with three doubles, three home runs, and three stolen bases across 33 at-bats. He’s caught the eye of manager Dusty Baker, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and he might force the Nationals to make room for him.

Werth, of course, is nearly untradeable as he turns 37 years old in May, played in only 88 games with yet more injuries last season, and is owed $42 million total through 2017. And Harper isn’t going anywhere, at least not until the 2018 season. The Nationals’ best option, if they intend to give Taylor a shot, seems to be platooning Werth and Revere in left field and putting Taylor in right.

Taylor, 25 on Saturday, posted a meager .640 OPS in 511 plate appearances last season, but he entered the year rated as baseball’s 32nd-best prospect according to Baseball America. He plays strong defense, runs the bases well, and can develop into a major league-capable hitter. The Nationals, however, may not want to afford Taylor more time for growing pains as they attempt to dethrone the Mets in the National League East.

It’s an interesting situation to watch, as spring training is suddenly close to finishing.

Twins tie team record with 8 homers in 16-7 win over Angels

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop each hit two of Minnesota’s franchise record-tying eight home runs and the Twins hammered Matt Harvey and the Los Angeles Angels 16-7 Thursday.

C.J. Cron homered, doubled twice and singled twice for the Twins. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario also homered for Minnesota.

It was the third time in franchise history – dating to their days as the Washington Senators – and second time this season Minnesota homered eight times. Before doing it April 20 against Baltimore, the last time it happened was in 1963 against Washington.

Schoop drove in four runs and Sano three as the Twins won six of seven on their road trip that began in Seattle and wound up with their first sweep in Anaheim since 1996. Minnesota, with the best record in the majors, hit 22 homers against the Mariners and the Angels while outscoring them 67-24.

There were a total of 11 home runs in this game, which was originally set for Wednesday but postponed due to unplayable field conditions following a pregame storm.

Angels first baseman Jared Walsh, who made five relief appearances in Triple-A this season, pitched for the first time in the majors. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk in the ninth.

The eight home runs also tied the Angels mark for most allowed. It previously happened in 2005 against Texas and 1996 vs. Oakland.

Four of the seven hits Matt Harvey (2-4) allowed in 2 2/3 innings went over the wall as the right-hander gave up eight runs for the second time this season.

Tommy La Stella hit his first grand slam in the ninth for the Angels, who have dropped four straight. David Fletcher and Brian Goodwin also homered for Los Angeles.

Minnesota broke open the game in the second inning with six runs, which included a three-run shot by Schoop and two-run drive by Polanco. Harvey was chased in the third after solo homers by Cron and Sano.

The Twins hit three home runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 14-2. Sano’s two-run shot and Schoop’s solo homer marked the sixth time the Twins had gone back-to-back this season. Kepler added a two-run drive.

Twins starter Martin Perez (7-1) went five innings and yielded two runs on five hits.

TOUGH DAY

Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun came up twice with the bases loaded but was unable to get a hit. He struck out in the third and grounded into a force out to end the fifth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: DH Nelson Cruz (left wrist sprain) returned to Minneapolis. He is eligible to come off the injured list on Friday but manager Rocco Baldelli said they are still seeing how he is doing swinging during batting practice.

Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons (left ankle sprain) saw a foot and ankle specialist Wednesday and expects to remain in a walking boot for at least two weeks. . LHP Andrew Heaney (elbow) had a bullpen session before Thursday’s game and could make his season debut Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Return home and open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.39 ERA) has seven or more strikeouts in his last four starts.

Angels: Conclude their home stand with three games against Texas. RHP Griffin Canning (2-3, 3.80 ERA), who became the second LA starter to go seven innings last Saturday against Kansas City, gets the call on Friday.

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