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Myers taking long view on current bench role

Slugger struggling in June, working to get strikeouts down
@AJCassavell
June 29, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- A week ago in Pittsburgh, Andy Green and Wil Myers sat down for a chat. The Padres’ skipper informed Myers that his role would be changing. It wasn’t a permanent change. But it was certainly an important one. In the six games since then, Myers has been

SAN DIEGO -- A week ago in Pittsburgh, Andy Green and Wil Myers sat down for a chat. The Padres’ skipper informed Myers that his role would be changing. It wasn’t a permanent change. But it was certainly an important one.

In the six games since then, Myers has been relegated to a bench role. He's served as a pinch-hitter and a late-game defensive replacement. But he hasn't started.

This is the same Wil Myers who was an All-Star in 2016, signed a five-year contract extension in '17 and, at times, helped carry a bleak San Diego offense over the past few years.

No hard feelings, Myers said Saturday. He's not getting the job done, and he knows it.

"When you get in the middle of a playoff race, it's not about feelings," Myers said. "It's not about who needs a start. You've got to win each and every game. We're at the point where we made a decision to put some guys in there that have swung the bat better, that are playing defense better."

He isn't wrong. It's been an abysmal June for the 28-year-old slugger. Myers is hitting .200 this month with a .639 OPS. Manuel Margot, a very good defender whose bat seems to be coming around, has taken hold of the center-field job while Myers struggles.

Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes, meanwhile, have anchored the outfield corners, with Josh Naylor serving as a useful left-handed complement to those two.

"It's definitely different," Myers said. "And it's definitely good seeing guys like Manny and Hunter and Franmil and Josh come up here and perform. I haven't been doing a whole lot at the plate. We have a great group here where we can take a step back, re-evaluate some things, work on some things, while these guys get some playing time. Because they're playing really well right now."

So where, exactly, does this leave Myers? There’s been plenty of trade speculation surrounding the San Diego outfield for about a year now. But the Padres insist there's a long-term place for Myers.

"This is a snapshot along a journey for him," said Green. "It's a few days here where he's working through a lot of things. He's putting some work in in the cage. We think he's going to improve if he stays religious with the work and stays disciplined with it and takes some steps forward.

"We expect Wil to be a part of what we're doing here for a long time. He's handled everything that we've given him well."

It's unclear when this "snapshot" might come to an end. But the Padres view it as a chance to shake things up. Myers has tweaked his swing a bit. In the batting cages, the team has used a machine to work with Myers on facing extremely high velocity pitches. In doing so, they’re merely asking him to put the ball in play.

The goal is to get rid of Myers' whiffs. His 36 percent strikeout rate is the highest in the Majors among players with at least 200 plate appearances this season.

"I'm striking out too much," Myers said. "If I was just putting more balls in play, that leads to more hits, a couple more infield hits, maybe a bloop double, and the numbers aren't as bad as they are."

Maybe Myers is turning a corner after all. He was brought into Friday's 3-1 victory over the Cardinals in a late double switch, and he roped a double down the left-field line. Once on the basepaths, Myers wreaked havoc. He took third on a ball in the dirt, and he scored on a slow chopper back to the mound.

It was vintage Myers. The Padres' aim is to channel that version more frequently.

"Do I think I'll get back?" Myers asked rhetorically. "Yes, I do. The talent hasn't left. ... It's something I feel like we can find."

Noteworthy

• The Padres designated Matt Wisler for assignment on Saturday, and they promoted fellow righty Robert Stock to take his place. In 21 appearances, Wisler showed promise with his slider, but he never pieced it all together, posting a 5.28 ERA.

Stock, meanwhile, had a breakout 2018 campaign, but he's struggled with his command this year -- in both Triple-A and the Majors.

"We tinkered with different mechanics, but it's really not so much a describable thing, other than it's just a feeling," said Stock, who noted that lately he's been able to recreate that feeling.

Stock had been serving as an opener with Triple-A El Paso, but Green said the Padres have no imminent plans to use him in that role.

• Earlier this week, Green was asked about Dinelson Lamet's potential return to the big leagues after 2018 Tommy John surgery. He said the club would hold a "serious conversation" about recalling Lamet after his rehab start Friday.

Well, Lamet pitched five innings for El Paso on Friday, striking out seven. Evidently that discussion has taken place, though Green was unwilling to divulge the results.

The Padres have an opening in their rotation on Thursday, and Lamet's schedule lines up in a way that he'd be available to start Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

• Renfroe was out of the lineup for a second straight game as he battles a stomach bug. Green expressed optimism that his slugging outfielder would be available as a pinch-hitter on Saturday night.

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