When Taylor Featherston looks around the Los Angeles clubhouse, the enormity of the situation is still a long way from fading from his thoughts.
The former all-conference shortstop at TCU is in the big leagues, having earned a spot on the Angels’ roster out of spring training. He’s a utility infielder acquired from the Rockies in December’s Rule 5 draft.
He made his first career start Sunday against the Royals. He didn’t get a hit, but he made solid contact against Royals ace Yordano Ventura.
Featherston didn’t know he was starting until teammate Johnny Giavotella broke the news to him that morning.
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“I try not to look at the lineup and prepare every day like I’m playing,” said Featherston who was in the Rockies’ minor league system the past four seasons after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 amateur draft.
Featherston has remained focused on his daily pregame routine of batting practice and infield work to stay sharp. Not playing every day has been an adjustment.
“It’s definitely a change of pace from your whole life playing every day and preparing yourself for the game [that night],” he said. “Going into this role as a bench player and not playing every day, I feel like my game is my preparation and early work.”
That includes arriving to Globe Life Park early Tuesday for batting practice at 2 p.m., followed by taking ground balls in the infield. Featherston entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement at shortstop. He flied out to right to end the game and is still looking for his first major league hit.
“The practice and the work is so much more emphasized,” he said. “Once the game starts, obviously you’ve got MVPs and Gold Gloves all over the place. Bunch of good players.”
The Angels’ clubhouse includes reigning American League MVP Mike Trout, three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols and All-Stars such as Matt Joyce, David Freese and Erick Aybar.
“You have to earn their respect,” he said. “As a rookie, they don’t know anything about you and they’ve been around 10 years playing in the big league level. So every day I try to show these guys that I’m here working hard and I’m trying to do everything I can when my number is called to show I can help the team win and I’m not just a guy stuck on the bottom of the roster who can’t really play.”
His friends and family in Fort Worth and Houston have kept his phone buzzing since he made the roster. Playing for a team in the AL West is an added perk that takes him to Arlington and Houston, where he grew up.
“It’s awesome that I get to go to Houston and play with these guys in front of my family,” he said. “At Minute Maid Park just like as a kid you dream growing up, and here we are.”
He’s not sure if he’ll get in a game in Arlington or Houston, but he’ll be ready.
“It’s my job to make sure when [I’m put in the game] it’s an easy transition and nobody notices anything,” he said. “It’s difficult to jump into that role, but now seeing how they do it, it becomes a daily thing and you just get used to it. I have to focus on my preparation for that late-inning time, one at-bat or to come in to play defense. You just have to accept it and roll with it, and I’m enjoying it every day.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760