Michael A. Taylor was forced to prematurely depart today’s exhibition game in the third inning, shortly after the Nationals center fielder injured his left knee making a diving catch.

Taylor’s impressive catch of Byron Buxton’s second-inning drive to right-center drew oohs and applause from the crowd at the Twins’ spring training complex, but the reaction turned quiet as Taylor remained on the ground and manager Davey Martinez and director of athletic training Paul Lessard came jogging out of the dugout to check on him.

Taylor, who appeared to get his left foot caught in the turf as he leaped to make the catch, got back to his feet and after a brief conversation stayed in the game. But it was clear he was less than 100 percent healthy.

Taylor finished out the bottom of the second, which lasted only one more batter, then attempted to jog back to the dugout. After several uncomfortable steps, he had to stop jogging and instead walk all the way back.

“His knee jammed right in the ground,” Martinez said. “And then his leg kind of twisted. We asked him how he felt, and he said he was getting stiff. I said: ‘Just come out then.’ It was just a weird fall.”

When the bottom of the third inning arrived Victor Robles, who started in right field, shifted over to center field, with Alec Keller (a minor leaguer called up for the day to make the long trip from West Palm Beach) taking over in right field and batting in Taylor’s No. 2 spot in the lineup.