Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Myers enjoys return to K.C. but can't end slump

KANSAS CITY — The last time RF Wil Myers played at Kauffman Stadium, it was in the All-Star Futures Game last summer, and the prized then-Royals prospect received a standing ovation.

So Myers, 22, knew Monday's return wouldn't be just another game, for a lot of reasons, with the added attention that included a pregame news conference with a dozen local media members.

Myers was pumped for the game, and he got some cheers from the small crowd before his first at-bat. He just wished he had played better, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Myers said the surrounding hype, and his excitement, didn't have anything to do with the results.

"I'm just not seeing the ball well right now," Myers said. "I'm just struggling."

Myers is in a rare rough stretch in a rookie of the year-caliber season, going 1-for-14 in his past four games and 9-for-54 in his past 13, dropping his average to .296.

"He's just been off for a couple of games now," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's just not on top of his game where he had been about a week or 10 days ago. He's going to be fine."

With Myers having not played so late into the season before, Maddon has tried to keep him fresh by often starting him at DH. Myers is confident he'll bounce back.

"I think it's just going to come when it comes," Myers said. "I don't feel great at the plate, and that feeling will come back at some point. I'm just working in the cage and hopefully it'll be back soon."

MORE MOORE: Maddon said everything went according to plan in Monday's bullpen session by LHP Matt Moore (elbow soreness), and he'll make a minor-league rehab start Thursday as scheduled. Maddon said they haven't decided where yet, mostly looking through weather reports. Moore is expected to rejoin the rotation a week from today.

WELCOME BACK: OF David DeJesus enjoyed returning to Kansas City, having been drafted by the Royals in 2000 and spent eight big-league seasons there. He was also a visitor with Oakland in 2011. "There's so many good memories here," DeJesus said. "I love coming back, this is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the major leagues."

TAKE IT EASY: Maddon said his biggest concern with Monday's awkward one-game trip to Kansas City was the fatigue that might set in upon the Rays' return home, especially with a 10-game West Coast trip starting this weekend. That's why there was no batting practice Monday, and won't be during the Angels series as the Rays go the "American Legion" route, showing up and playing. 3B Evan Longoria was given a day off his feet as DH Monday, and CF Desmond Jennings got the day off. "If you can keep a fresh mind right now, the body will follow," Maddon said.

STEPPING UP: After Jeremy Hellickson's short start Monday, the Rays need struggling RHP Roberto Hernandez to step up in tonight's return to the rotation. It hasn't been pretty recently for Hernandez, whose 13 losses are third most in majors, and he has allowed a combined 13 runs in his past three starts.

But Maddon liked how Hernandez looked in his sharp one inning of relief Saturday, believing it can be a springboard into tonight.

"(On Saturday), what I thought I saw was he wasn't trying to overthrow and there was more movement on the bottom of the strike zone, which is a good thing," Maddon said. "It was 90-91 (mph), not in that 93 area which I think sometimes it might flatten out for him. This might seem strange, but from one inning, he might have gained a lot of confidence."

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