Outfielder Wil Myers, the centerpiece of the Dec. 9 trade that sent James Shields to Kansas City, was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Sunday and will meet his new teammates in Boston.
Myers, 22, was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2012 after slugging 37 homers for Kansas City’s affiliates. His recent surge in power and average at Durham prompted his promotion as the Rays begin a critical seven-game road swing against the Red Sox and Yankees.
“He’s going to fit right in and help us win games,” Rays GM Andrew Friedman said in also announcing infielder Ryan Roberts had been optioned to Durham. “It’s something we’ve been deliberating for a while. His recent hot streak certainly accelerated the conversations.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Myers, who bats right-handed, will make his major-league debut Tuesday, when the Rays and Red Sox meet in a doubleheader at Fenway Park.
“There may be times when you want to give him a rest against a very tough right-hander,” Maddon said, “but it depends on how he’s swinging the bat. We’ll try not to place the expectations on him too high, although I know it’s going to come from the outside.”
Maddon said he planned to ease Myers into the lineup toward the bottom part of the batting order and indicated he would play primarily in the outfield. Friedman, who scouted Myers personally last month, said Tampa Bay’s top prospect was playing stellar defense in right field.
In 64 games with the Bulls, Myers was hitting .286, with 14 home runs, 13 doubles, 57 RBIs and seven steals in eight attempts. After a sluggish start, Myers was batting .354 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in his last 23 games in the International League.
He was pulled from Sunday’s game against Indianapolis in the second inning.
“Over the last week, we spent a lot more time thinking about it and talking about it,” Friedman said of Sunday’s decision. “We felt by injecting one more bat against right-handed pitching, we had a chance to do some damage. We feel he’ll fit right in with our group and be one of nine in our offensive unit.”
Myers was the key acquisition from the Royals in the trade that sent Shields, Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson to Kansas City. Davis was the winning pitcher Sunday as the Royals downed the Rays 5-3 at Tropicana Field before an announced crowd of 27,442.
Roberts, 32, appeared in 47 games with the Rays this season, batting .238 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. He started 18 of Tampa Bay’s 19 games against left-handed starting pitchers and played primarily at second base.
“Of course, we’re excited to have Wil Myers here,” Maddon said after the Rays fell to 36-33. “We want him to just come and play. We’re trying to grow complete ballplayers here and that’s what he’s turning out to be.”
Despite hitting 17 home runs, the Rays went 4-6 during their first losing homestand since last summer.
“The fact we’ve been scoring runs is good,” Friedman said. “I don’t know if we would have done this if we were struggling. We felt now was the right time.”