Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the San Diego Padres
news

Padres News

Back in OF, Myers eager to stay in lineup

Padres left fielder aims to stay healthy, play 155 games
@AJCassavell
March 23, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Generally speaking, Wil Myers has always set lofty goals for himself. Why not? Verbalizing those goals, he figures, is the first step toward achieving them. This year, however, Myers has divulged only one goal. In theory, it's a simple one. In practice, it has been the biggest

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Generally speaking, Wil Myers has always set lofty goals for himself. Why not? Verbalizing those goals, he figures, is the first step toward achieving them.

This year, however, Myers has divulged only one goal. In theory, it's a simple one. In practice, it has been the biggest challenge of his Padres tenure.

"Honestly, my No. 1 goal is to stay healthy," said Myers, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run in the Padres' 11-4 victory over the Angels on Saturday. "If I'm healthy, I know I'll put up the numbers that I want to put up."

Health proved elusive for Myers last season. He was limited to 83 games with an assortment of injuries that included an oblique strain, back tightness, nerve irritation in his arm and a bone bruise in his foot.

The injuries were different enough that it's difficult to link them all. But Myers points to the fact he bulked up by about 20 pounds last offseason in an effort to get the most out of his power potential.

This winter, instead, Myers worked extensively on agility and athleticism. His early offseason workouts revolved around high-intensity basketball drills designed to harness his quick-twitch movements. Myers is 15 pounds lighter than last season, and he's also entrenched in the outfield after an ill-fated experiment at third base last year.

"All I'm trying to do is stay healthy," Myers said. "Last year, putting on all that weight didn't really help like I thought it would. I was also moving positions left and right. For me, right now I feel comfortable with the weight I'm at, with the size I'm at and with the position I'm at. I feel good. Just want to stay in there for 155 games this year. I know once I do that, I'll put up the numbers I can."

Myers might not get to 155 games even if he is healthy. The Padres have a deep contingent of outfielders, including Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes, two righty-hitting corner outfielders like Myers. Manager Andy Green has noted that he'll do his best to limit the burden on his outfielders, and that might mean fewer starts for all of them.

But for all the young talent in the Padres' outfield, it's still worth noting that Myers is easily the most proven. He has been worth 10 wins above replacement, according to baseball-reference. The other four outfielders -- Reyes, Renfroe, Franchy Cordero and Manuel Margot -- have combined for 10 WAR in their careers.

Last season, Myers posted a 253/.318/.446 slash line with 109 wRC+. That was in a supposed down year. Myers showed flashes of his excellence. He also fell into a couple prolonged slumps.

"When he's on the field, he's dynamic," said hitting coach Johnny Washington. "Like every hitter, it's a day-to-day grind. Can he fight through those challenges, learn daily?"

Myers is clearly a valuable piece -- and even more so if he can play center field. In an effort to get his bat into the lineup along with both Renfroe and Reyes, the Padres experimented with Myers in center this spring. That experiment seems unlikely to roll into the regular season, though he might play center field occasionally.

The decision to use Myers in center raised some eyebrows. Last season, Myers struggled at third base, and he seemed to acknowledge that the difficulties of learning a new position contributed to a late-season slump on offense. Myers was quick to note that playing an occasional center field is a whole lot different than playing third base (which was a brand-new position) every day.

"In terms of everyday things and day-to-day routine, [playing center] just is not a huge change from left," Myers said.

Myers' most comfortable position is clearly left field. The metrics pegged him as a valuable defender there last season before his move to third base.

Positionally, Myers is settled. Physically, he's healthy. Offensively, he feels as though he'll be better able to prevent some of his trademark streakiness at the plate, because he's mostly stopped tinkering with his swing. He has found a groove lately, going 5-for-15 with three homers in the past week.

But the regular season will surely present new challenges. If Myers can rekindle his All-Star form, the Padres will have another ferocious bat in a lineup that -- with Reyes, Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer -- is suddenly full of them.

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