Myers continues to wait for opportunity
Expectations can be difficult to manage for young people.
This is especially true when yours is a 22-year old face recognizable to hundreds of thousands of people before you spend your first day on the job. Such is the case for Wil Myers, who is still waiting to make his Major League Baseball debut.
Opening Day came and went yesterday at Tropicana Field for the Tampa Bay Rays. Many expected Myers to be penciled into the lineup in right field this week for the Rays, but those individuals will have to wait until tomorrow to see Myers in action, as he opens the season with the Durham Bulls.
There are a number of reasons why the vaunted prospect did not break camp with the parent club despite having nothing left to prove at the minor league level.
Myers did not have the awe-inspiring spring many imagined after last season, when he hit .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBIs across two minor league levels. Instead he struggled to hit big league pitching in his first taste of the majors and was sent down to Triple-A Durham, where he will begin the season less than 100 miles from home.
He will likely spend at least two months there, as the Rays attempt to add another year to his arbitration clock — preventing Myers from becoming a free agent through the 2016 season. This practice has become protocol in the game of baseball for small-market franchises scouring for ways to get the most bang for their buck.
If Myers impresses again, he will likely receive another chance to crack the Rays' everyday lineup later this season. He remains a crucial cog in Tampa's farm system and represents the direction of the organization. Operating within the aforementioned financial constraints, Andrew Friedman, general manager and executive vice president of player operations, cut ties with veteran players during the offseason who were due for lucrative raises.
B.J. Upton, former Rays' center fielder, is now manning the outfield for the Atlanta Braves after signing a five-year, $75 million contract. James Shields was a former mainstay of Tampa's rotation, but became a luxury the team could not afford. This opened the door for Myers, who was the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade that relocated Shields to Kansas City.
What all of this simply means for Myers is that, for now, he remains in a holding pattern. Despite being denied the opportunity to achieve his lifelong dream of taking the field as a major leaguer yesterday, that time is swiftly approaching.
The Rays simply can't keep the man down long, as the buzz surrounding Myers will grow louder with every home run he hits. And if Sam Fuld — a lifetime .246 hitter — starts out of the gate slowly for a team in dire need of an influx of offensive firepower, do not be surprised to see Myers appear in the box score sooner rather than later.
Only this time, it will be on a major league scorecard.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.