Health, attitude improved for former Ray Wil Myers

Padres first baseman Wil Myers admits he “was kind of young and dumb” during his first two seasons with the Rays.
Padres first baseman Wil Myers admits he “was kind of young and dumb” during his first two seasons with the Rays.
Published Aug. 16, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Wil Myers is healthy. That's different.

And he's older and more mature and, he said, smarter.

Myers, the centerpiece of two trades (one coming, one going), returned to Tropicana Field on Monday as the Padres' All-Star first baseman.

The wrist injuries that bothered him the past two years are no longer issues. He entered Monday's game batting .276 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs.

"He played every day, he's on the field," said former Padres teammate Melvin Upton Jr., now with the Blue Jays. "I think everybody has always known he's a great talent. It's just that he's healthy, learning a lot about himself, and around some good guys over there, some good veteran guys. Definitely listened a lot and took in some information. But nobody can take credit for it but himself. He's done a great job all year, and obviously it's showing."

Evan Longoria, who has kept up on Myers' career, is not surprised.

"I always would tell everybody, he's one of the most talented hitters, definitely hitters, I had ever played with," the Rays third baseman said.

Myers was the 2013 American League rookie of the year when he helped jumpstart a sluggish offense upon his heralded arrival to the big leagues in June to lead the Rays to the AL wild card.

He came to the organization the previous December from Kansas City as the big piece in the James Shields trade. He left two years later as the big piece in the three-team trade that netted rightfielder Steven Souza Jr.

"I was definitely surprised," Myers said. "Obviously winning rookie of the year, you think you're going to be here a while. I bought a place here and had to sell it right after that."

And yet, Myers said, that trade might have been just what he needed.

"It definitely could have been," he said. "I wouldn't have changed anything that happened with the way everything's gone this year. I'm glad that I was able to change scenery and learn the game a little bit better."

Myers was moved partially because he just didn't fit into the Rays Way. His work ethic, the way he rubbed some of his teammates wrong made him a hard fit in the Rays clubhouse.

"When I was here, I didn't necessarily know what it was like to be a big-leaguer and play every single day," Myers said. "I was kind of young and dumb. That kind of comes with the growing pains. I feel this year I finally learned how to play the game the right way. That's something I wish I could have given Tampa a little more, but I guess it's better to learn later than never."

Longoria was one of those who tried to take the kid under his wing.

"Wil and I had our differences and disagreements on some things in the year and a half that we played together," Longoria said. "I think he's a good kid, I'm happy for him. We parted ways on a good note."

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.