Tampa Bay Rays
Myers’ time with Rays will come soon
ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays leave two runners in scoring position and the call from the fan base goes out for
Kelly Johnson has another hitless game in the 3 hole and the drumbeat sounds for Wil Myers.
Luke Scott takes early batting practice and the consensus is, why bother? Bring up Wil Myers.
Myers is the 2012 minor-league player of the year, the guy the Rays used James Shields and Wade Davis to obtain last December in a trade with the Royals and the guy targeted as the next big thing to hit Tampa Bay.
The only question surrounding this kid is this: When? The answer from the Rays is this: Soon. How soon? Hard to tell. “Of course he’s getting closer. I’m hearing some really good things,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. “A lot of it is better organization of the strike zone, better overall play on the field, just like we did with Matty Joyce a few years ago. That’s been the crux of it, and he’s getting better and getting closer.”
The Rays believed Joyce’s game needed some upgrades after they obtained him in a trade with the Tigers after the 2008 season. Joyce split his first two seasons with the organization, moving between the Rays and the Triple-A Durham Bulls before finally sticking with the big club.
Maddon brings up David Price, who began the 2009 season at Triple-A Despite being one of the stars of the 2008 World Series run. Price needed to work on his fastball command, simple as that, and he wasn’t going to work on it at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.
The Rays want Myers to be close to a polished product when the call finally comes so he sticks once he arrives. That’s why they are willing to be patient with his development.
Sure, there’s the whole Super 2 arbitration thing that has been delayed now that it’s mid-June, and Myers is still with the Bulls.
The other issue is this: Where will Myers play?
He’s a corner outfielder, and the Rays have corner outfielders.
Sam Fuld isn’t going anywhere, because he is the backup center fielder.
Scott appears to be safe, because he’s the designated hitter. Myers is not going to begin his major league career as a DH, and the Rays do not want to move Johnson into that spot because they like his defense.
An injury would create an opening. Short of that, the Rays will have to create an opening.
“It’s the same as we said in spring training,” Maddon said, “When we thought he was ready to be here, we will auger out a spot for him.”
Perhaps looking at an outfielder for a solution is the wrong place to begin. Anyone notice how well Johnson is playing third base in place of Evan Longoria?
That the Rays can use Johnson as the backup third baseman in addition to second base and left field might make Ryan Roberts or Sean Rodriguez expendable. Don’t forget, Johnson played a little first base in that 14-inning game last week against the Red Sox.
Johnson has gone cold at the plate, but the Rays are not giving up on him. Same with Scott, who seems to have found his swing.
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said early last week that Myers, like all the other prospects, will reach the Rays when he is ready and when there is a need.
For his part, Myers is doing all the right things at Durham. He’s cut down on his strikeouts and took a .275/.349/.498 line with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs into Saturday’s game.
Myers is also saying the right things, telling the Times-News, “I’m not going to think about it at all. If you think about it, you’re not going to do well.”
Expectations are going to be high whenever Myers arrives. He will be viewed as the man who can jump-start the Rays’ run toward a playoff berth, the young bat that can energize a lineup that has been surprisingly productive this season.
“I think any way you bring him, the perception will be the same,” Maddon said. “Whenever that does happen I will definitely make sure it is not the message.”