Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Wil Myers tries to put early struggles behind him

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays rightfielder Wil Myers isn't typically short on confidence.

That's why manager Joe Maddon often compares him to Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell's character in Talladega Nights, saying he … um … oozes excellence.

But Myers, 23, admitted that his bravado took a hit in recent weeks, when he was off to the worst offensive start in his pro career.

"I think any hitter that's going through a slump loses confidence in themselves, and I'm no different by any means," Myers said. "Just one of those things you go through each year."

Myers regained some mojo over the weekend with back-to-back three-hit games, including two homers Saturday, before going 0-for-5 Sunday. There have been a few slight mechanical adjustments, but Myers said it has been mostly mental, as well as having better pitch selection. He's hitting .242 with two homers and 11 RBIs heading into tonight's game against the Twins.

"I'm not there yet," Myers said. "But it's a lot better."

Hitting coach Derek Shelton said it's natural for a young hitter in his first full season in the majors — especially a rising star coming off winning American League rookie of the year — to try to do too much.

That was only exacerbated when Myers saw his batting average dip under .200, with zero homers and four RBIs in his first 14 games.

"You try to press," Myers said. "You try to make it all back in one at-bat."

That led Myers to not only swing at bad pitches but speed up his swing. Manager Joe Maddon noted that Myers wasn't putting the ball in the air, contributing to the skid. Maddon said that happens when you don't stay behind the baseball — with your top hand and bat head — due to moving your feet up to meet the ball instead of letting it come to you.

Sunday, Myers grounded out, grounded into a fielder's choice, reached on an infield error and struck out twice.

"A lot of it is jumping the ball," Maddon said. "You're getting out too quick on the front side. And when you do that, your bat is going to lag behind and you're going to play catch-up at the end and roll it over."

Myers said the slump was difficult mentally and physically. He watched video of himself last year, when he hit .293 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 88 games, to see what it looked like during a strong stretch at the plate.

"It gives you some small things that you can look at to see what's a little different than now," he said.

Shelton believed Myers was putting pressure on himself to hit his first homer, with his solo shot Saturday snapping a stretch of 113 at-bats without one. Now that it's out of the way, Shelton thinks Myers can be more relaxed and get back to an organized strike zone. Myers has 20 strikeouts and seven walks.

"Everyone wants to make hitting about the mechanics and 95 percent of the time, especially at this level, it has nothing to do with the mechanics," Shelton said. "It has nothing to do with how much work you've done. It has to do if you swing at the right pitch in the right count, or not swinging at the right pitch in the right count."

So Shelton thought it was an encouraging sign that Myers picked up three walks during the Yankees series, while not chasing as many bad pitches.

"All of a sudden, there's a little more room to realize, 'Okay, now I can swing at the right pitches, I can do this,' " Shelton said. "I think that was important."

Shelton said one of Myers' greatest attributes is that he's extremely honest, in good times or bad, making it easier for coaches to help make adjustments.

"He can hit," Shelton said. "And he's going to hit. A span of four or five bad games, eight bad games, is never going to be a true reflection of what he is."

Comments
Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Published: 01/19/18
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Published: 01/19/18
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, 33948Get tickets here: (941) 206-4487Pitchers report: Feb. 13. Squad reports: Feb. 19TEAM SCHEDULE(games at 1:05 unless noted)(ss - split squad)Feb 23 at Orioles (ss) (Sarasota)Feb 23 PIRATE...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Former Phillies and Indians manager Charlie Manuel will receive the Ted Williams Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 10 in Clearwater.The honor is bestowed by the Ted Williams Museum at its annual Hitters Hall of Fame induction, moving this year from ...
Published: 01/19/18
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Published: 01/18/18
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18
A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

With the start of spring training now less than a month away, here is what the Rays roster looks like, with the most glaring hole at first base, which at this point seems likely to be manned by Brad Miller, and some questions about the pitching staff...
Published: 01/17/18