BACK TO BULLS
Wil Myers is quick to credit Durham Bulls hitting coach Dave Myers for helping him find the batting stroke that led to him being last year’s American League Rookie of the Year.
On Thursday, with Wil Myers back at Durham Bulls Athletic Park for an injury rehabilitation stint with the Bulls, Dave Myers was glad to say his pupil is well on his way to helping the Tampa Bay Rays again.
“I was pleasantly surprised working with him in the cage,” said Dave Myers, who is not related to Wil Myers. “He seems to be pretty strong. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything different as far as bat speed. I was pretty impressed that he would come here that close to being ready to go.”
Wil Myers returned to Durham on Thursday as he recovers from a broken wrist he suffered on May 31. He’s been on Tampa Bay’s disabled list ever since, including the first six weeks when his wrist was immobilized in a cast.
The plan is for Wil Myers to go through batting and fielding work with the Bulls on Thursday and Friday at the DBAP. The first day he could be activated would be for Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. game with Buffalo.
Wil Myers worked with Dave Myers in an indoor batting cage on Thursday before hitting the field with the Bulls for a mid-afternoon workout prior to Durham’s doubleheader with Buffalo. Getting back on the field with a team marked another step in Wil Myers’ road back to the Rays.
“Today will be my first workout with a team on the field so I’m excited about that,” Wil Myers said prior to the workout. “I wasn’t able to take any batting practice with any team since I’ve been hurt so I’m pretty excited about it.”
The Rays want Myers to get between 40 and 50 at bats with the Bulls before he returns to the major leagues. That means Myers, who will also play in the field, expects to be with the Bulls for two weeks or so.
“It’s pretty much spring training for me,” Myers said. “Just get a feel for game speed again, get an approach back at the plate.”
After throwing batting practice to the team Thursday, Dave Myers is convinced it won’t take long for Wil Myers to be ready.
“With any kind of injury with the wrist with a hitter, you are never quite sure,” Dave Myers said. “But I liked the swing I was seeing, especially with the bat speed and the ball coming off his bat, all day — on the field and in the cage.”
Wil Myers, a Thomasville native, began the 2013 season with Durham before his promotion to Tampa Bay in June.
After spending the night at home with his family on Wednesday, he drove to Durham Thursday to get to work on the field. He also he took a quick tour of the renovated DBAP, which has seen $20 million in improvements since Myers last played for the Bulls in June 2013.
“It looks really good,” Myers said. “I like it. I think they did a really good job on the renovations.”
Thursday’s doubleheader began a four-day series between the Bulls and Buffalo. The teams will play 7:05 p.m. games Friday and Saturday before concluding the series with a 5:05 p.m. game on Sunday.
Myers and the Bulls will then head to Rochester, New York, where Durham plans a four-game series with the Rochester Red Wings Monday-Thursday. The Bulls return home on Aug. 15 to face Charlotte in the start of another homestand.
Myers, who played his high school baseball in High Point, batted .286 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs in 64 games for Durham last season.
That was when he worked closely with Dave Myers for weeks perfecting his swing and is approach at the plate.
“The big thing with coming back here is working with the hitting coach,” Wil Myers said. “I have a great relationship with him and he kind of got me on track last year.”
After Wil Myers was promoted to Tampa Bay last June, he batted .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs and was voted the American League’s top rookie.
This season, Myers had a .227 average with three home runs in 53 games prior to his injury.
“I definitely didn’t start out as good as I thought I would my first two months,” Myers said. “I tried to analyze too much. I looked at too many scouting reports, wondering what they were pitching and doing a lot of guessing. Back here I just want to play to my strengths and not really worry about the pitcher and what he does. Just play to my strengths.”