Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays call up top prospect Myers

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have always said that when they believed prized prospect Wil Myers was ready for the big leagues, they'd make a spot for him on their roster.

On Sunday, they felt the time was right.

After much deliberation and weeks of speculation, the Rays made the much-anticipated move of calling up Myers from Triple-A Durham, with the 22-year-old expected to play regularly, mostly in rightfield, while providing some pop from lower in the lineup.

"He's going to play a lot," manager Joe Maddon said. "Of course you don't bring somebody like that up to sit around."

As much hype as Myers has already garnered since being the key piece of the seven-player offseason trade that sent James Shields to the Royals, he'll be stepping onto a big stage, making his major-league debut Tuesday during a doubleheader at Fenway Park to begin a seven-game trip through Boston and New York.

Myers was pulled from Sunday's game at Durham in the third inning and said he was surprised by the news. Infielder Ryan Roberts was optioned to make room.

"Obviously, I'm very excited," Myers told reporters in Durham. "I didn't know what to expect. But the opportunity arose and luckily they gave me the call."

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they've debated the decision for a while, and Myers' recent hot stretch — .354 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs over his past 23 games — "certainly accelerated the conversations." Friedman said a major factor was the adjustments Myers has made since a rough stretch earlier this season — better organizing his strike zone, improving his approach against right-handers and handling "getting pitched backward."

"Even when I was struggling, I was having good at-bats," said Myers, hitting .283 with 14 homers and 57 RBIs in 63 games. "It was just one of those things where I was missing my pitch. I was really dialed in the last few weeks."

But Friedman said what impressed him the most while watching Myers during a five-game stretch last month was how well he played defensively.

"We try to grow a complete ballplayer around here," Maddon said. "And I think that's what he's turning out to be."

Maddon said that though there will naturally be some large outside expectations for Myers, the Rays will do their best to ease the pressure by hitting him lower in the order and asking him to just be "one of nine." Friedman said the fact that Myers bounced back from early struggles will help him mentally and pointed out that he won't have to worry about carrying an offense that has already been productive.

"To be able to add him into that and just be a piece of the puzzle here is something that's critical," Friedman said. "I don't know that we would've done this if we were struggling. It's hard to answer. But we felt like now was the right time."

Maddon said he hadn't thought out how adding Myers will impact the Rays' defensive alignment. It would appear Matt Joyce will play leftfield, especially against right-handed starters, and Ben Zobrist will get more starts at second base. Left-handed hitting Kelly Johnson is in the mix at both positions and showed this past series he could back up Evan Longoria at third. That versatility allowed the Rays to send down Roberts, though Friedman acknowledged it "wasn't an easy decision."

Maddon doesn't believe it'll be any more difficult for Myers to make his debut in Fenway, where he remembers hitting a few homers over the Green Monster in a predraft workout. Friedman said Myers just "gives us the best chance to win."

"He's going to fit right in," Friedman said.

Information from the Durham Herald-Sun contributed to this report.

Comments
Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG  — Christian Arroyo has watched more than 50 Rays games at Tropicana Field from the stands. Has been on the turf for his younger sister's gymnastics competitions and once, while it was in football configuration, to take grou...
Updated: 3 hours ago
There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

Tampa Bay Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier and his wife Marisa are having a boy.Kiermaier shared the news on Twitter over the weekend in a most appropriate themed gender reveal event — taking a swing at ball that exploded with blue powder.Looks like im ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What’s next for the Rays’ new pitching strategy

What’s next for the Rays’ new pitching strategy

ST. PETERSBURG — When Kevin Cash called team president Matt Silverman Sunday morning to wish him happy birthday, he expected to get back some form of an "attaboy" for implementing the Rays' latest unorthodox pitching strategy in using reliever ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Published: 05/20/18
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Published: 05/20/18
What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The nearly Yanny-vs.-Laurel level national debate over their latest pitching strategy innovation of starting relievers isn't quite as entertaining today. The In-N-Out burgers in the clubhouse after the game weren't as tasty. T...
Published: 05/20/18
Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif.  – Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine for the Rays on Sunday.It was the less effective pitchers who followed, and the ineffectiveness of...
Published: 05/20/18
For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

UPDATE, 2:27: If the Rays win today, it would be their first four-game sweep since Sept. 20-23, 2013, vs. Baltimore and first on the road since Aug. 16-19 here at Anaheim. … It also would be the first time they swept back to back series on the ...
Published: 05/20/18
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Published: 05/20/18
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18