Myers determined to get Padres on right track

December 17th, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- sure has packed a lot into his three-year tenure in San Diego.

Myers has been part of a push for contention and a rebuild for the future. He has played across the outfield and moved to first base. Myers has been an All-Star, signed an extension, hit for the cycle and endured a handful of dispiriting slumps.

But 2018 might just be Myers' most important year yet.

"This is an offseason that I'm preparing more than I ever have to be able to come back and take that next step as a ballplayer," Myers said. "I don't feel like I've taken those steps to be the type of player that everybody thought I was going to be. For me, this year, this is the first time I'm like, 'You know what, it's time to be a professional, it's time to get after it. It's time to show people what I really can do.'"

What can Myers do? Well, the Padres made it clear what they think he's capable of with a six-year extension in January. Ideally, he's the backbone of a young offense and an excellent defender at first base.

At times, Myers had been both of those things for San Diego. But after a fast start to 2017, he went through a prolonged slump that he couldn't shake. He finished with 30 dingers but a .243 average and a subpar showing at first base.

Throughout, Myers was candid about his struggles.

"I haven't dealt with failure very well at the big league level," Myers said. "That's something I learned this year."

Myers is making weekly visits to a sports psychologist this offseason to help better prepare for the season's mental grind. He saw the same psychologist three years ago, when he dealt with injuries. This time, the focus is different.

"He's going to give me the tools to be able to take on the slumps I go through and come out better on the other side," Myers said.

Myers has also added 10 pounds of muscle, with the goal of reaching 220 pounds by the time camp opens.

At 27, Myers has accomplished plenty in his five-year career. In that regard, he has wisdom to impart on a young roster. But he's the first to admit he still has plenty of things to learn.

"The young players can't just come in and say, 'I'm going to be better this year, because I have the experience,'" Myers said. "From my experiences, thinking I had things figured out because I played a year in the big leagues, it doesn't translate.

"The one piece of advice I have is: Keep getting better. Just because you've played in the big leagues doesn't mean you're getting better. For me, it's all about looking at next year and wanting to improve even more. Each player, including myself, has to actually go out there and prove to people that we're getting back, that the Padres are on the right track."

If, indeed, the Padres are on the right track in 2018, Myers will play a critical role in getting them there.