Myers prepares to play 3B upon return from DL
Versatility is the goal for Padres as they evaluate talent
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' worst-kept secret is a secret no longer. William Myers is headed to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore for a rehab assignment on Sunday -- and he'll do so as a third baseman.
For most of the past month, Myers has spent time taking grounders at third base, working extensively with infielders coach Josh Johnson. Privately, the Padres hatched a plan to make him a versatile roster piece -- one who could move back and forth between third and the outfield.
That plan is finally taking shape. Myers landed on the disabled list a week and a half ago when he fouled a ball off his left foot and sustained a bone bruise. But he's been fully healthy since the middle of the week, and he's been working toward time at third base.
"He'll have the opportunity to play that position tomorrow, get a few innings under his belt," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We don't expect it to be a polished, finished product when he comes back. There's literally nothing for him to lose here. It's just an opportunity to see what a great athlete he can be on a baseball field. He's game for it, excited about it."
Versatility has always been a critical part of Myers' skillset. He played first base in 2016 and '17 before the Padres signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal. That necessitated a move back to the outfield for Myers. He spent his first three big league seasons there -- including an ill-fated stint in center field in '15.
For the most part, third base is an entirely new challenge for Myers. He spent two seasons as a catcher in the Royals' system, but he was mostly an outfielder, otherwise. He played 15 games at third in 2012, but has played only one inning there since.
"It's something I think could benefit the team a lot to give them that option," Myers said. "I realize I might not always be in the infield. But just to have that option ... puts the team in a better chance to win."
How so? Well, the Padres haven't yet found their long-term solution at third base. Christian Villanueva has mostly struggled since winning National League Rookie of the Month in April. There aren't any big league-ready options in the Minors either.
Of course, the Padres aren't asking Myers to become their long-term solution at third. They'd just like him to be available there to provide lineup flexibility -- akin to the way the Cubs rotate Kristopher Bryant, Benjamin Zobrist and Ian Happ to open up room for other players in their lineup.
"Why not? There's no pressure," Myers said. "Just go out there and do the best you can. Right now, I just want to go out there, take it in stride, see what happens, see how everything goes. I've been working hard here to try to get ready for that. I've been doing a lot of work. I feel good. I feel prepared for it."
The Padres haven't yet decided when Myers will debut at third base, but it's entirely possible he plays there Monday against the Angels when he's eligible to come off the disabled list.
"I don't think we would ask him to play third in the Minors if we had no intention of him ever manning the position in the big leagues," Green quipped.
As for the timing of the experiment, it only made sense, Green said. Entering play Saturday night, San Diego sits 24 games below .500. The rest of the season will be devoted to similar experiments. On the whole, the Padres need to learn a few things about their roster heading into the offseason.
"We're going to figure out how versatile we are as a club, and we're going to take some looks at some different alignments," Green said. "Where we are in the process right now, it only makes sense to try some things. It doesn't mean we're going to marry any one of them. It means we've got a chance to take a look at things to put guys in some unique positions. I don't think we're going to shy away from that over the next couple weeks."