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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Rays' Myers has debut to savor

BOSTON - Wil Myers never played in a day/night doubleheader before Tuesday. He never stood in right field at Fenway Park. He never stepped inside the Green Monster. He never searched the stands of a big-league park for his parents and family. Myers did all of those Tuesday. "He'll remember this for the rest of this life," Evan Longoria said. "You only get one first day." Myers, the Rays' top prospect, made his much-anticipated major league debut on a rainy day in Boston. He went 0-for-4 in the first game, a 5-1 loss, and was 1-for-3 in the nightcap.
His first hit came in the second inning of Game 2, a single to left field off Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront. "It was awesome. First time in the big leagues was really cool," Myers said between games of the doubleheader. Myers batted sixth and played right field in both games. "I think he should be fine," Rays manager Joe Maddon said about the double-dip. "He's 22." Myers' presence in the lineup moves Matt Joyce to left field and sends Desmond Jennings back toward the top of the lineup. Jennings hit second during the first game, a spot he will occupy most days, and leadoff in the night game because Maddon rested Joyce against Doubront. "He'll be just fine," Longoria said of Myers. "He's a talented player. I'm glad that he's up here. I think this is one, I don't want to say this the wrong way, it just tells us that (executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman) and the front office and everybody is trying to win, because we a lot of times look at guys we have in the minor leagues or possible moves that can be made to make the team better and this was one of them. "Wil's been playing well (in the minor leagues). He's been hot. He's one of our prospects and they called him up and gave him a chance to play and help us here. So, it's a good sign for us as a team. Kind of reinvigorating, gives us a little bit of renewed energy, and I'm excited to see him play." Myers poked his head in Maddon's office Tuesday morning when he arrived at the historic park. Maddon told him to relax, play hard, have fun. Much has been made about the help Myers can bring to the Rays' slumping offense, yet Maddon said he wanted to stay away from that kind of talk. "I want him to play hard every day, and I really believe, just based on his natural abilities, whatever those numbers are supposed to be they'll show up," Maddon said. "That's really how I want to approach it, because I do believe the trap is to start attaching tangible expectations, and I really don't want to go there." Maddon will give Myers as much space as he can so as not to clutter the rookie's mind with things other than what he needs to do on a daily basis to get ready for the game. It's the same approach Maddon used with Longoria when he came up in April 2008. "Leave them alone," Maddon said. "Don't get in their heads. Let them play. This guy's here for a reason. He's a good baseball player. ... Let him play and watch and observe and if there's a little tinkering you need to do at some point, please do, but the way to mess it up is to be too smart, to over-coach, try to impart too much wisdom. That's the only thing that could possibly prevent him from doing well." Myers found himself looking around the ballpark Tuesday morning while he stretched before the Rays took optional batting practice. "Looking around thinking I'm in the big leagues, this is awesome," he said. Some of his teammates took him inside the Green Monster, and Myers marveled at the decades' worth of signatures from some of the visitors. "I did sign it," Myers said. Maddon chuckled during the top of the first inning when he noticed Myers in the dugout wearing his batting helmet. "Which I liked," Maddon said. "He was very eager." It was a force of habit. "I'm used to hitting in the first inning," he said. "I was excited for the game, obviously. Just one of those things where I was ready to hit." Myers' first big league at-bat came in the top of the second. After Longoria and James Loney drew back-to-back walks, Myers swung at the first pitch from Alfredo and popped up to shallow center field. Chalk it up to a kid being a little anxious during the big moment. "I'm not a guy that takes a lot of pitches anyway," Myers said. "I should have got a better pitch to hit right there. I just got out of my approach a little bit, obviously, being the first at-bat." [email protected] (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO
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