ST. PETERSBURG — OF Wil Myers returned to the Rays' lineup Wednesday after missing 70 games with a right wrist fracture intent on proving his play before the injury was a false indication of his abilities.
“I don't see it as a makeup,” Myers said. “I think it's more just me going out proving to myself what I can do, and prove to everybody who doubted what I can do, that the first two months were a fluke.”
Myers served as the designated hitter Wednesday, a role he will fill until he develops the leg and arm strength needed to play the outfield, according to manager Joe Maddon. And when that happens, expect to see Myers play a lot of left field as well as right field.
“I don't want to say it's a surprise,” Myers said of the position change. “For the last two months you've seen (RF Kevin) Kiermaier play. He's arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game right now, and it's hard for me to argue with that. The biggest thing is just being in the lineup, hitting-wise. Obviously, that's the most important thing in my game, but being hurt I've realized how important defense is as well, and I've worked hard to get better during BPs.”
Myers, last year's AL Rookie of the Year, was hitting .227 with five home runs and 25 RBIs at the time of his injury, with four of those home runs against the Yankees.
Myers said part of his early-season struggles were related to an issue with his left wrist, where a tendon was rubbing against a bone. Myers spent a lot of time in the batting cage trying to swing himself out of the slump, and that only worsened the condition of his left wrist.
“I think the biggest thing going forward is not taking so many swings in the cage,” Myers said.
The confidence Myers lacked at the plate during the first two months of the season returned during his seven-game rehab stints at Triple-A Durham.
“I just found myself again at the plate,” Myers said. “And just found the confidence level that I was looking for.”
LHP David Price makes his first start today against his old team.
“We've handled these kinds of situations in the past,” said RHP Alex Cobb, who will face Price this afternoon. “I had to go against (James) Shields last year (at Kansas City) pretty soon into the season, and that was pretty weird, too, but once the game starts it's going to be me against the Tigers lineup. But it's going to be weird for him going up against his old buddies.”
The Rays know what Price can do, and Price knows what the Rays hitters can do. So, who has the advantage?
“A really good pitcher I think always has an advantage over the hitter, because he knows where the ball is going, what he's trying to do with it, and a guy like him has such great command,” Maddon said. “The only disadvantage would be emotionally. He's coming here to pitch for the first time.”
Did he say 'youth?'
RHP Chris Archer couldn't protect a 4-0 lead Wednesday and took responsibility for the Rays' 8-6, 11-inning loss.
After the game Maddon called it a “youthful thing.”
Archer disagreed, saying the game got away from him because he walked a pair of batters with two outs in the sixth inning and allowed one to score the tying run on a single.
“All I have to do is get one more out and we win that game or we're in a better position to win that game,” Archer said.
Hug it out
Kiermaier's failure to make a diving catch on a sinking line drive by Ian Kinsler to start the 11th inning Tuesday resulted in a leadoff triple. RHP Grant Balfour, who walked the next three batters (one intentional) to force in the go-ahead run, said it would have been a lot easier to pitch had Kiermaier held Kinsler to a single.
The two talked before Wednesday's game.
“I talked to him and he said, 'Hey, if you made that play, we would have been great. But stuff happens and it just didn't happen there.' So we've moved on,” Kiermaier said.
Ben Zobrist said he didn't think Tigers RHP Max Scherzer was throwing at him in the first inning Tuesday. Zobrist said Scherzer was wild inside to Matt Joyce, too. ... Rays pitchers tied a season high with 10 walks Tuesday, including four in the 11th inning. ... Golfer John Daly threw out the first pitch.