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Padres may try Myers out at third base

Green: 'He's athletic enough for whatever we'd ask of him'
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- From the moment they acquired him in December 2014, the Padres have been enthralled by Wil Myers' athleticism. They've spent the past 3 1/2 seasons searching for the best ways to take advantage of it.

Here's a new one: third base.

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SAN DIEGO -- From the moment they acquired him in December 2014, the Padres have been enthralled by Wil Myers' athleticism. They've spent the past 3 1/2 seasons searching for the best ways to take advantage of it.

Here's a new one: third base.

View Full Game Coverage

The Padres have, indeed, held internal discussions about the possibility of using Myers as a third baseman, team sources said. For now, there are no imminent plans to get Myers game action at the hot corner. He might not seriously attack the position until the offseason or next Spring Training. But the team is proceeding with the hope that Myers could become a versatile option that could one day move back and forth regularly between the outfield and the infield.

During his Padres tenure, Myers has routinely taken reps at third base during batting practice, for no reason other than habit. He's done so multiple times over the past week, but this time with a bit more vigor -- and with infielders coach Josh Johnson offering instruction.

The experiment remains in its infancy, and neither Myers nor manager Andy Green readily acknowledged its existence. Should the learning curve prove too steep, it's entirely possible the Padres ditch the plan before it even begins.

"We're not in any way, shape or form committed to moving Wil anywhere," said Green. "We do believe he has the athleticism to move around the field. Where that leads us, in time, we don't know. But there's guys everywhere bouncing around the field, opening up holes for other players. It's usually guys with extreme athleticism. He's got extreme athleticism. We're not committed to anything with him other than left field right now. But he's athletic enough for whatever we'd ask of him."

Eventually, they're going to ask for a more serious look at third -- a move which Myers says he'd be open to.

"If that were to be the case, I do enjoy those types of challenges," Myers said, offering a knowing grin. "Playing that type of position, I am, at heart, an infielder. I enjoy playing on the dirt. If it came up where that was a thing that added value to the team, then I would want to do it."

It's easy to see why such a move would make sense. The Padres don't yet have a solidified long-term option at third base. Rookie Christian Villanueva has struggled mightily since winning National League Rookie of the Month honors in April. Unless the Padres were to move top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. from short to third, they don't have a ready-made candidate in the Minors either.

That said, San Diego isn't viewing Myers as an option to become its third baseman of the future. Rather, he's seen as a useful athlete who could mix third base and left field together to create some lineup flexibility. For an easy example, a couple of Padres officials pointed to the Cubs and the way they've used Ian Happ, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist between the infield and outfield to create flexibility. That type of usage allows for other less versatile players to see time.

Versatility has always been in Myers' arsenal. He spent the past two seasons playing first base. Then, the Padres signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, which prompted a move for Myers back to the outfield, where he spent his first three big league seasons.

Myers spent his first two seasons as a catcher in the Royals' system before moving to the outfield. In 2012, however, he played 15 games at third base for Triple-A Omaha. In fact, when Myers was drafted by Kansas City in '09, he was committed to play third base at South Carolina.

A decade later, the position remains tantalizingly out in front of him. Of course, Myers has already been through one failed positional experiment -- his 2015 stint in center field.

He was solid at first base in 2016 but struggled mightily there in '17. Clearly, Myers' bat is his most potent weapon. He's hitting .278/.322/.527 this season (although he missed two months with back and oblique injuries).

This season, Myers has seemingly found a home in left field, where he's been worth five defensive runs saved. But the Padres aren't at all concerned about asking Myers to tackle another position. Quite the contrary, in fact. They feel Myers is at his best when he's tasked with such a challenge. They worry he might grow disinterested in left.

Myers -- always antsy for as much involvement as possible -- echoed that sentiment. He'd clearly be on board with a move, even if he's not ready to acknowledge one as imminent.

"When you do something repetitively, it can get boring at times, and it's fun to move around, play different positions," Myers said. "I've really enjoyed my time in left. I've taken a lot of pride in playing it well. But any time you change things up, move around, it's pretty fun. If [playing third base] can help up win, it's something I would definitely be interested in."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Wil Myers