Myers rewarded after riding out down days

September 23rd, 2020

The longest-tenured Padre, the outfielder whose ups and downs often mirrored those of the franchise, needed a victory lap. The Padres had just reached the postseason for the first time in 14 years, and wanted to revel in it.

So he grabbed a scooter, rolled through the players' parking lot and out onto Tony Gwynn Drive and pumped his fist at a handful of fans who had gathered, socially distant, on the other side of a fence.

Perhaps it wasn’t the clinch celebration Myers had envisioned. But after playing through five straight losing seasons in San Diego and years of trade speculation, he wasn’t sure he'd ever get that moment with the Padres.

"Any time a team is going through the rebuild or starting over, each team goes through a time where they're not sure this is the way it should be going or they question the direction," Myers said. "But at the end of the day, the plan comes together and it takes off. It's a lot of fun."

Myers is a leading candidate for National League Comeback Player of the Year. Coming off his worst season with the Padres in 2019, he has turned in his best season with the Padres. On a team with multiple MVP candidates, it's Myers who leads the team with a .989 OPS.

"The bad times happened," Myers said. "But when you're in those, it makes you appreciate this more. ... You sit back and you see the entire plan come together, and that makes this a little more gratifying."

Myers' role is starkly different this season. For years, he'd been asked to carry the Padres' offense while being shuttled around to different positions on defense. This year, he has played nearly every game in right field. He has batted sixth, mostly. On Tuesday night, he batted seventh.

The Padres have simply asked Myers to contribute what he can contribute, no more. General manager A.J. Preller touted that as one of the biggest reasons for Myers’ success.

"If you're going to do good things as a team, you need a lot of talented individuals that feed off each other," Preller said. "For Wil, again, being around a lot of other good, talented players, he's been arguably as valuable as anybody for us. Being part of a really talented group, that's part of it for him."

A season ago, Myers batted just .239, and he fell into such a rut in June that he was relegated to a pinch-hit/bench role. But he finished the year strong, hitting .312/.365/.532 in September.

Myers credited Damion Easley, then the assistant hitting coach, for that progress. After the club wisely promoted Easley to hitting coach in December, Easley and Myers worked hard to make sure those adjustments carried into 2020.

"Last year was a tough one, man," Myers said. "Anybody having their worst season, it obviously gets tough. Those are the times that make you better. It makes you really re-evaluate what you're doing. It makes you say, ‘You know what, man, I don’t have this figured out, or I need to really drastically change some things. I look back at last year and say, ‘If I don't have last year, who knows what happens this year?’"

Injury updates
• After he was scratched from his start Saturday because of soreness in his right biceps, threw a bullpen Monday during the team’s off-day, lining him up to start on Wednesday, manager Jayce Tingler said.

In three starts with the Padres, Clevinger owns a 3.00 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP. If his start Wednesday goes smoothly, he'd be in line to get the ball for Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series with six days of rest.

• Left-hander was activated from the injured list Tuesday after missing the minimum 10 days with right knee inflammation. His return should make for a tight race for places at the back end of the Padres' bullpen. Strahm is presumably already in, as a middle-innings lefty.

Fellow southpaw was optioned to the team's alternate training site.