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Myers confident in new mental approach

Padres outfielder looks to better weather slumps in '18
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- To the Padres, Wil Myers remains an All-Star talent. He's the same player who was arguably baseball's best hitter in June 2016. He's the same player who opened last season by slugging .593 in April.

They simply need to extract that version of Myers more frequently than the one whose batting average dipped below the Mendoza Line last July and August.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- To the Padres, Wil Myers remains an All-Star talent. He's the same player who was arguably baseball's best hitter in June 2016. He's the same player who opened last season by slugging .593 in April.

They simply need to extract that version of Myers more frequently than the one whose batting average dipped below the Mendoza Line last July and August.

"The reality of a slump is that nobody is good in a slump," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's just about how quickly you can end it and move out of it. ... I want to see how [Myers] walks through those rough stretches this season. Because everybody has them."

A year ago, Myers' rough stretches lingered. His hot streaks did not. It culminated in a season in which he batted .243/.328/.464. He hit a career-high 30 homers and swiped 20 bases, but Myers wasn't at all content with his overall performance.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

It's easy to see why. When he's at his peak, Myers is a better player than those numbers indicate. And so during the offseason, he took steps to ensure that he'd be better prepared for the mental grind of the game.

"I talked to a sports psychologist, and that's something that's really going to help," said Myers, who entered Friday hitting .340 with three homers this spring. "The tools have always been there. It's been the mental ability for me to stay consistent through an entire season that's been one of my problems, and I felt like this year I really took strides in correcting that."

Myers met with the same psychologist who helped him handle injuries in 2014 and '15. This time, though, the two focused on Myers' ability to handle the challenges of an offensive slump.

Those offseason sessions, of course, have yet to be challenged by the realities of an 0-for-13 slide.

"You have to believe in the work that's been put in," Green said. "You have faith that he's going to be really good when the slumps come."

Video: Outlook: Myers has solid power-speed combination

This spring has undoubtedly taken a different feel for Myers than the last one. A year ago, he was fresh off inking the largest contract ever by a Padre (six years, $83 million). New arrival Eric Hosmer shattered that record last month.

Myers is no longer being asked to anchor the lineup by himself. Instead, he'll pair with Hosmer to form a formidable 2-3 or 3-4 punch in the order.

Defensively, Myers is back where he began his career. He'll play the outfield this season, after two years at first base. The transition has been relatively seamless -- so much so that Myers has volunteered to play both corner-outfield spots. The Padres had originally planned to find one comfort zone for Myers and keep him there.

But San Diego has a left fielder in Jose Pirela and a right fielder in Hunter Renfroe, both of whom are expected to play. So Myers has made himself available to play outfield wherever he's needed. This, of course, after Myers eagerly accepted his move to the outfield in the first place to accommodate Hosmer. Green touted Myers as an "unbelievable teammate" for his openness defensively.

Myers arrived in camp noticeably bulkier, having added 20 pounds of muscle this offseason. To Green, that was a positive sign for Myers on all fronts -- mentally as much as physically .

"There's a lot of optimism," Green said. "The greatest example for him has been what he's done with his physical body. He's been very disciplined this offseason, putting himself in really good shape."

Said Myers: "It's more about just knowing what I did, being confident in all the work I put in. It's not necessarily: 'Oh I'm bigger, I'm going to be better.' It's more so just having that confidence to say, 'Hey, I did everything I possibly could.'"

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

San Diego Padres, Wil Myers