The Rays Wil Myers is in the midst of a 9-for-54 slump (.167) with 20 strikeouts in his past 14 games. “I don't feel great at the plate, but that feeling will come back at some point," he said. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday did not mark any sort of a homecoming for Rays RF Wil Myers, considering the rookie never appeared in a single game for Kansas City.
But it had that feel as the former top prospect in the Royals’ system had been touted as a future star destined to roam the outfield at Kauffman Stadium and be a fixture in the middle of the Kansas City lineup for years to come. But an offseason trade sent Myers to Tampa Bay before he stepped foot in the Royals’ clubhouse.
Monday marked the first time Myers faced the organization that drafted him in the third round in 2009 and a return to the stadium where, as a teenager taking batting practice there for the first time, he asked to have the famous outfield fountains turned on so he could hit home runs into them.
The former minor league player of the year, however, downplayed his “return’’ to face the Royals.
“It’s a little different than any other game playing against the team that drafted me,’’ Myers said. “But I’m just playing another game. Obviously it’s at a field I’ve played at before (in the 2012 MLB Futures game), which is pretty cool, but it’s still the same game and I don’t want to put any more expectations on it.’’
The day did not go well for Myers — and the rest of the Rays for that matter — as the rookie went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. He said after the game that facing his former organization had nothing to do with his performance.
“I just had a bad game,” said Myers, in the midst of a 9-for-54 slump (.167) with 20 strikeouts in his past 14 games.
“I’m not seeing the ball well right now,’’ said Myers, whose average has dropped to .296. “I don’t feel great at the plate, but that feeling will come back at some point. I’ll just work in the cage and hopefully that feeling will come back soon.’’
Myers wasn’t the only former Royal making a return as CF David DeJesus made his way back to Kauffman Stadium. A fourth-round pick by Kansas City in 2000, DeJesus spent his first eight seasons with the Royals.
The veteran outfielder was acquired by the Rays from Washington last week, and Monday marked the first time DeJesus returned to Kauffman Stadium since 2011 when he was with Oakland.
“I’ve been here before. It’s just a different uniform, but I enjoy playing in Kansas City. A lot of good memories here,’’ DeJesus said.
DeJesus reached base twice on Monday and is 5-for-11 (.455) in three games since being acquired on Friday.
Rest is a weapon
With the unusual one-game trip sandwiched between a homestand, Rays manager Joe Maddon is cognizant of the stretch Tampa Bay is in the midst of, with only one more scheduled off day before the end of the regular season.
So squeezing in Monday’s make-up game against Kansas City allowed Maddon an opportunity to give CF Desmond Jennings the day off, while 3B Evan Longoria served as the designated hitter.
“My biggest concern is always fatigue,’’ Maddon said. “And maybe it’s not so much fatigue today, it’s the fatigue that follows.’’
The Rays flew home after Monday’s game and will open a three-game series Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels before heading to the West Coast to start a 10-game trip on Friday.
For the three games against Los Angeles, Maddon said the Rays will not hold batting practice and players are permitted to arrive at the clubhouse later than normal.
“If you can keep a fresh mind right now, the body will follow,’’ Maddon said. “So right now I’m all about keeping a fresh mind.’’
Back on the mound
RHP Roberto Hernandez returns to the rotation Tuesday night after his previously scheduled start was skipped last week. Instead, Hernandez threw one perfect inning of relief out of the bullpen on Friday against the Yankees.
Maddon hopes that brief appearance helps the big right-hander, who has 13 losses this season, get back on track.
“What I saw (on Friday) is he was not trying to overthrow. There was more movement on the bottom of the strike zone, which is a good thing,’’ Maddon said. “It might seem strange, but I think he might have gained a lot of confidence from that one inning.’’
Need to know
Maddon said LHP Matt Moore threw well in a bullpen session on Monday and the reports were good. Moore is scheduled to make a minor league start on Thursday, but Maddon said the team has yet to determine where it will take place. ... With home runs in all three games against the Yankees over the weekend, Longoria joined Ty Wigginton as the only players in team history to homer in all three games of series against New York, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Maddon’s ejection in the fourth inning Monday was his fourth this season and club record 31st overall. ... Royals DH Billy Butler finished the season 13-for-28 (.464) against Rays pitching after going 3-for-3 with three runs scored, three RBIs and a home run on Monday. ... LHP David Price celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday.