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As face of Padres, Myers stays 'authentic'

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

DENVER -- Wil Myers was a third-round Draft choice of the Royals in 2009. He made his big league debut with the Rays in '13, a mid-June callup who became the first American League position player to appear in fewer than 100 games and win the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Today, Myers is the face of the Padres, the 26-year-old "veteran" in what will be his fourth full big league season. He signed a six-year, $83 million contract in January as the foundation for a major rebuilding plan that general manager A.J. Preller undertook a year ago.

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DENVER -- Wil Myers was a third-round Draft choice of the Royals in 2009. He made his big league debut with the Rays in '13, a mid-June callup who became the first American League position player to appear in fewer than 100 games and win the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Today, Myers is the face of the Padres, the 26-year-old "veteran" in what will be his fourth full big league season. He signed a six-year, $83 million contract in January as the foundation for a major rebuilding plan that general manager A.J. Preller undertook a year ago.

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Myers is realistic about his situation from a personal standpoint.

"[The Padres] set me up financially for the rest of my life," Myers said. "It is hard to say no to that, honestly. ... I was hurt for two years as well. That plays a factor, too. I have this opportunity to set myself up financially, and I took it."

Myers is realistic about his situation from a baseball standpoint.

"I want to win here," Myers said. "This isn't just about taking the money and going out there and playing. This is about building something that we have here. I really like the plan that we have in place. I like the young guys that we have in the Minor Leagues. I think we're going to be extremely good in the near future."

Video: Myers talks about hitting for the cycle

But this isn't about now. Sure, the Padres are coming off taking two of three from the Rockies at Coors Field, and they headed to Atlanta on Wednesday night having split their first 10 games of the season, avoiding a losing record in the opening stretch of the season for only the second time in eight seasons.

While Myers may be only 26, he is the highest-paid player on San Diego's roster. With three years and 114 days of big league service time, he is one of the more veteran players on the roster. In Wednesday's starting lineup, only journeyman infielder Erick Aybar had spent more time in the big leagues.

Myers is also one of the more seasoned members of the Padres' roster. Myers is one of only five San Diego players who was on the big league roster 22 months ago when Bud Black was dismissed as the club's manager.

Since the arrival of Preller prior to the 2015 season, the Padres have undergone a massive turnover. They flirted with trying to create an instant contender, trading off their top prospects to add the likes of Craig Kimbrel, James Shields, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp.

Less than a year into that plan, the organization made an about face, accepting the idea of a long-term makeover that led to a nearly complete organizational overhaul, and this time Preller focused on adding a mother lode of young prospects that San Diego feels will help change the franchise's fortunes.

Among the 28 players who are either on the active roster or have been placed on the disabled list since the season started, only three are products of the Padres' farm system -- backup catcher Austin Hedges, and outfielders Travis Jankowski and Hunter Renfroe.

Enter Myers. He has come a long way from the talented kid to a player that San Diego's management envisions as a guiding force into the future.

"With Tampa [Bay], I was young and dumb and didn't know what it was like to be a professional in the locker room," Myers said. "That one was on me. I was a kid and very stubborn. I still am, but I learned a lot of things over the last couple of years that have really helped me become a big leaguer.

"It's not just a game. It's a job now, and every single day you come here, you're coming out to win. That's the most important thing."

But, Myers admits, it is important to be himself.

"I do not want to change who I am," Myers said. "If I were to go out there and try and get this guy who makes a lot of rules and isn't himself, people will see right through it. People ask me what I have done to be a leader, and I told them nothing. I'm just being myself, doing my own thing and helping the team play hard. If it's forced, people see right through it, and it's the one thing I want to do, is just stay authentic as I can and go out there and play hard.

"I'm not the poster child for the weight room or anything like that, but I do play this game very hard."

That is a message the Padres are counting on Myers to spread in their clubhouse.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Wil Myers