PEORIA, Ariz. -- William Myers hung around for half an hour following his Sunday morning workout, taking fly ball after fly ball in front of the right-field warning track. Skip Schumaker -- in his new role as Padres outfield coach -- stood to Myers' right, offering instruction throughout.For the past
PEORIA, Ariz. -- William Myers hung around for half an hour following his Sunday morning workout, taking fly ball after fly ball in front of the right-field warning track. Skip Schumaker -- in his new role as Padres outfield coach -- stood to Myers' right, offering instruction throughout.
For the past week, the two have prepped for Myers' move back to the outfield as though cramming for an exam. The first test comes Monday against the Angels, when Myers makes his spring debut.
Of course, the outfield isn't exactly uncharted territory for Myers. He spent his first three big league seasons there, before moving to first base in 2016. Earlier this offseason, when the Padres discussed free agent Eric Hosmer, they phoned Myers, asking if he'd be comfortable switching positions. He said he'd happily oblige, and soon enough Hosmer's signing became a reality.
"It's a little difficult with the little things -- remembering how to get back and play the wall, footwork," Myers said. "… But I feel really good with where I'm at right now."
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Schumaker, who will serve as first-base coach this season, believes Myers has all the tools necessary to be an elite right fielder. Few have ever questioned Myers' athleticism. He swiped 20 bases last season and was the sport's fastest first baseman (Hosmer tied for second.)
In Schumaker's eyes, it's merely a matter of focus. Over the past two years, Myers said multiple times that he preferred first base because of his constant involvement in the field.
"Wil is the best athlete on the field every single game, when he wants to be," Schumaker said. "He needs to have intent every single pitch. Being engaged every single pitch is his biggest challenge. If he does that, he'll win a Gold Glove. There's nobody more athletic than Wil Myers."
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Myers appears destined to play right field, where he spent two seasons with Tampa Bay at the beginning of his career. Hunter Renfroe, who lent Myers his backup glove when Myers had to order a new one, will shift to left, where he'll battle Jose Pirela for playing time.
Metrics pegged Myers as a mediocre right fielder during two seasons with Tampa Bay. Upon his arrival in San Diego, he was asked to move to center, where he quickly flopped.
In his first year as a first baseman, Myers was among three finalists for a Gold Glove Award. But he mostly struggled there last year. And with Hosmer on board, a move to the outfield was only logical.
"He's done it before," Schumaker said. "That's the good thing. He's been an outfielder, he's played center, he's played right. It's not like he's moving from the outfield to the infield and has never played shortstop before. This is a refresher, a fine tune. You saw what he did when he went to first. He was almost a Gold Glover. He loves challenges, and this is another challenge."
Hedges starts spring in style
Austin Hedges tweaked his swing this offseason, an effort to limit his hand movement and keep him more composed in the box. The changes aren't particularly noticeable, but they already seem to be making an impact.
On his first at-bat of the spring, the Padres catcher swatted an opposite-field solo homer, providing all the offense in the Padres' 2-1 loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon. He walked in his second at-bat, also an encouraging sign, given Hedges' on-base struggles last season.
"He saw the ball well," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I've seen him run into baseballs before, but I thought the walk was probably just as exciting as the home run. He's worked hard. There's a simplicity to it -- less head movement, easier to see the baseball. Hopefully that carries on. You don't want to read into two at-bats."
Bullpen, rotation races to overlap
Over the past few days, Green has reiterated that eight pitchers are currently competing for three places in the starting rotation. On Sunday, he split that camp into two groups -- pitchers who could also make the roster as relievers, and pitchers who won't.
Three or four places remain available in the Padres' 'pen. If Jordan Lyles, Matt Strahm, Robbie Erlin or Christopher Young aren't named starters, they could still win a relief role, Green said. Meanwhile, Luis Perdomo, Dinelson Lamet, Tyson Ross and Colin Rea are rotation-or-bust options (Perdomo and Lamet have an early leg up on the other six.)
The rotation battle continues Monday, when Lyles takes the mound for the first time this spring. For the second day in a row, the Padres will face the Angels -- this time in Peoria -- at 12:10 p.m. PT on MLB.TV.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.