Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Myers confident he can handle centerfield

PHOENIX — Manager Joe Maddon decided to have rookie Wil Myers play centerfield on Wednesday for a simple reason.

"Because he told me he can," Maddon said.

With starting CF Desmond Jennings on the DL and primary backup Sam Fuld not contributing much at the plate, Maddon wanted to have Kelly Johnson and Matt Joyce in the lineup for the Rays against the Diamondbacks and was able to do so by moving Myers to center.

"(Myers is) very confident about it. I've used that word with him a lot," Maddon said. "He's done it, he's very comfortable with it, and I have a lot of confidence in him."

Myers then showed that he could, making an impressive catch in left-center, with two on, to end the fifth, though he had to leave the game in the seventh inning because of an issue with asthma.

Myers, 22, actually played more centerfield than left or right during the 2011-12 minor-league seasons after the Royals moved him from catcher, and — though acknowledging how good Jennings is — he said center is his favorite position.

"I feel good out there," Myers said. "It's easier in the sense of getting a read on left and right, obviously, but as far as a line drive right at you, it's harder. But I like it better because I can take control out there. When I call a ball, I know I've got it instead of listening for somebody to call me off. I enjoy centerfield a lot."

In less than two months in the majors, Myers, 22, has put up tremendous numbers, moved into the cleanup spot and now has started in center.

Is there anything he can't do? "He might end up pitching, who knows. You might see him coming in in the seventh or eighth inning at some point," Maddon said. "He might want to manage one of these days and give me a day off."

MOORE BETTER: LHP Matt Moore's left elbow felt good after Moore threw another session Wednesday, extended to 90 feet, and he seems to have a legitimate chance of rejoining the rotation during the homestand that begins Tuesday. "It's possible," Maddon said. "(The elbow) keeps feeling better every time he goes out there, so it is encouraging."

Moore will take today off, then play catch Friday. He said "if (the elbow) still continues to feel the way it has been, which has been good," he will throw off the mound Saturday or Sunday. From there, it could be a matter of just another bullpen session or a simulated game until he returns. "I think if I throw off the mound good and I feel fine the first time and there's not problems, I would assume it wouldn't take much more than a (simulation) game or another heavy bullpen to kind of get it going," said Moore, who last pitched July 28.

REHAB REPORT: RHP Alex Cobb (concussion, blister) is set for his second rehabilitation start Friday for Class A Charlotte in Fort Myers, throwing either five innings or 75 pitches. If all goes well, he could start for the Rays Aug. 15. "It's possible," Maddon said.

TICKET TIME: The Rays announced ticket specials available at raysbaseball.com, including 1,000 lower-level seats for $9.53 for all remaining home games; a buy two/get two free deal on outfield seats for all Tuesday home games with a coupon in the Tampa Bay Times; another $2 kids night Aug. 14, where a fan buying one full-price ticket in certain sections can buy up to three tickets for kids 2-14 for $2 each (and free parking for cars with four or more); and a 10 percent discount for purchases of four or more tickets.

MISCELLANY: INF Ryan Roberts grounded out as a pinch-hitter, making him 0-for-7 vs. his former team. … Kelly Johnson hit his 16th homer, all against right-handers. ... Matt Joyce had his first three-hit game since May 18. ... LHP Alex Torres had made 10 straight scoreless appearances. ... Former Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo, still fit at age 37 and playing in an independent league with hopes of getting back to the majors, was a pregame visitor. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson on Tuesday was the first Rays pitcher to get a hit since James Shields on July 23, 2012, snapping an 0-for-20 skid.

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