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Tough postseason doesn't keep Myers down

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wil Myers seems bound for a career full of highlights and big moments, of awards and accolades and everything else that comes for a young hitter with star potential. That might even start early this offseason, when the Baseball Writers' Association of America announces its American League Rookie of the Year.

But for now, Myers can only look back on his first postseason experience as a difficult one, optimistically calling it a learning experience. From his misplay in right field at Fenway Park in the opener to his hard-hit out in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, it was a rough moment for the Rays' 22-year-old rookie slugger.

"I would say, yeah, it was pretty tough," Myers said after the Rays were eliminated from the postseason in a 3-1 loss to Boston. "But it's one of those things you have to let go. You can't dwell on it.

"I learned a lot this postseason, and I'll definitely be able to know a lot more the next postseason, whether it's next year or whatever. I just thought this was a good learning tool for me."

That was what Myers chose to take from a postseason in which he went 2-for-20 with a walk and seven strikeouts at the plate and made perhaps the most notable play of his young career, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Myers lined up underneath a long fly ball hit by David Ortiz, calling off center fielder Desmond Jennings, only to step forward and let the ball bounce over the fence for a ground-rule double in Game 1.

To his credit, Myers handled the situation like someone beyond his years, taking full responsibility for the mistake and owning up to it with the media. He even handled the Fenway faithful's "MY-ERS!" chants and mock rounds of applause over the next two days, and when Boston's fans cheered his first successful putout after the gaffe, he couldn't help but crack a smile.

He finished the ALDS 1-for-16 with four strikeouts, but nobody needed to tell the young slugger the Rays needed more from him to move past the Red Sox.

"I didn't get anything done. I think I had one hit in 16 at-bats or something like that. I struggled all series. I didn't come up big at all," Myers said. "So it was definitely tough to go out like this. I think this postseason definitely taught me something, what approach to have in the postseason. I think it was a good learning tool for me."

He said afterward that he didn't think the Red Sox pitched to him differently than anyone else had all year. He just strayed from his approach at the plate, the one that helped him hit .293/.354/.478 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 88 games during the regular season. It's something he'll learn from, he said.

Even during his struggles, there were flashes of Myers' potential. He beat out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the fourth on Tuesday, and he scorched a nearly 400-foot out to center field to lead off the ninth.

"I thought it had a shot to be a double. I didn't think I got it good enough to get out. It was the best ball I hit all series," Myers said. "They were in the no-doubles [defense], so it's kind of hard to hit it over their heads.

"It's tough, but that's the way it goes sometimes. That's baseball. It's a tough way to end it, but all in all, I think the whole team had a great year, especially the way we fought back with our backs against the wall."

Eventually, Myers will look forward to his bright future and that of the Rays. He'll be back next year for his first full season in the Majors, joining Evan Longoria in the middle of Tampa Bay's lineup.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said it was Myers' "obliviousness" that helped him get past the mistake near Fenway Park's warning track. Perhaps that trait will also help Myers look back on this series, when he said he learned something new every day, and view the struggles as merely a bump in the road.

"I think we've got a great group of guys here on the team. I think it's good going forward for next year," Myers said. "Looking at it, we've still got a lot of guys coming back, so it's going to be exciting next year."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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