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Perrotto: Michael A. Taylor Has Productive Hobby

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Michael A. Taylor, Pittsburgh Pirates

Most major-league players have a hobby to give their minds a break away from the field.

Some golf. Others hunt and fish. And video games are prevalent in many hotel rooms following night games on the road.

Michael A. Taylor has a rather unique hobby for a major-leaguer. The Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder likes to do woodworking and has a workshop in a two-car garage in his offseason home in Boca Raton, Fla.

Taylor’s interest in woodworking and carpentry began 10 years ago.

“I had a buddy that was a carpenter, and he came by my house and helped me with a project,” Taylor said. “I just kind of stood by and watched him because I had no experience with it. But from that day, I fell in love with the process, and he gave me advice about a few tools to pick up and kind of pointed me in the right direction and I went from there.”

From there, Taylor eventually turned his garage into a workshop.

“The ability to be creative,” Taylor said when asked what he likes best about woodworking. “I like just the process of turning the raw material into something that’s beautiful and can last forever.”

Taylor has gained the knowledge and confidence to take on bigger projects. He built a dresser for his young daughter Naomi Mae shortly after she was born and then added a bassinet/rocker for her bedroom. Taylor estimates the dresser took approximately 30 hours to complete.

“I don’t work on a normal schedule,” Taylor said. “It’s a few hours here and a few hours there, so it takes some time to complete some of my projects. It takes attention and detail but there is something peaceful about being in the shop and kind of working at your own pace. I really enjoy it.”

Taylor had an extended offseason to spend more time in his shop, even though it wasn’t by design. Taylor endured a slow free agent market and did not sign with the Pirates on March 16, agreeing to a one-year, $4-million contract less than two weeks before opening day.

Taylor seemed to be in a good position heading into the open market after hitting 21 home runs and stealing 13 bases for the Minnesota Twins last season. He had a .220/.278/.442 slash line in 139 games. Taylor was also considered one of the top defensive players in free agency as he won an American League Gold Glove in 2021 while playing for the Kansas City Royals.

“There were times it was difficult,” Taylor said of his offseason. “It was obviously a unique situation, something that I hadn’t experienced but I tried really hard to stay focused on the positive and I was given extra time at home with my family which is a blessing. I have a young daughter and that’s extra time a lot of guys don’t get. I was definitely thankful for that but at the same time, I missed being on the field. Just kind of working that balance out and staying positive.”

The lack of spring training seems to have affected Taylor. Through 39 games, he is hitting .216/.264/.279 with one homer and three steals. The 33-year-old has been outstanding in the field, though, with eight defensive runs saved.

However, Taylor is optimistic that things will get better. The 11-year veteran is enjoying his first season in Pittsburgh despite the hitting woes.

“There are a lot of great guys here and everybody works really hard,” Taylor said. “I feel we have a really good plan and process and every day guys are looking to come in and get better. I don’t think I’m a finished product. I’m still looking to improve. I know I am capable of playing better.”

The Pirates hope so.

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