Yankees Notebook: Wil Myers makes his Yankee Stadium debut
On Tuesday, the Mets called up Zach Wheeler for the second game of a doubleheader. The same day in Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays called up their positional version of Wheeler when Wil Myers made his major-league debut.
Myers entered this season as the No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America. The Rays acquired him as the center piece of the deal that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals.
The 22-year-old hit 37 home runs on two levels of the minor leagues last year and was leading the minors with 57 RBIs when he joined the team in Fenway Park for his first major-league action.
After getting his first career hit off Red Sox right-hander Felix Doubront and keeping the ball from his first hit and the lineup card from his debut, Myers soaked in the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium Thursday, coming out early, leaning on the dugout rail and casually talking with anyone near him as the Yankees took batting practice.
As the Rays began their batting practice, manager Joe Maddon spoke highly of Myers, who came into last night with two hits in 12 at-bats.
“Not overwhelmed,” Maddon said. “He’s really a better athlete than I think people have told me in the beginning. I saw that in spring training where everyone talked about his hitting abilities, but he’s good in the outfield. He runs, he throws well and he does a lot of things well besides just hit.”
Myers began his minor-league career as a catcher but the Royals had Salvador Perez in the system at the same time. He switched to all three outfield positions — with a little first base mixed in — but in preparation for his arrival, he played 56 games in right field for Triple-A Durham.
Besides his swing, Maddon likes the demeanor of Myers, saying he believes that personality would be the same if this was rookie ball.
Last night, a sign in the stands read “Will-Ville” with the hopes of seeing the swing that Maddon described before the game.
“I’m watching his swing,” Maddon said. “I like it. The ball comes off the bat hot. He hit to the whole field.”
Wells remains in the lineup
Vernon Wells saw the group of reporters surrounding his locker before last night’s game and was aware their purpose was to ask about him remaining in the lineup despite a massive slump that has dropped his batting average to .224.
Manager Joe Giratdi stuck with Wells despite the fact he has nine hits in his last 87 at-bats. Only one of those hits has been an extra-base hit and he has not hit a home run since May 15.
“It’s timing for the most part,” Girardi said. “It seems like he’s pulling off balls sometimes, chasing pitches at times. It’s a number of things.”
After going 0-for-7 in the cleanup spot during Wednesday’s doubleheader against Los Angeles, Wells batted fifth on Thursday.
To prepare for facing hard-throwing right-hander Matt Moore, Wells faced the faster pitching machine and tried to limit his movement and stay stationary as the pitch headed in his direction.
That also was the gist of what he and hitting coach Kevin Long discussed earlier Thursday.
“He looked at a lot of video and we’ve been looking at a lot of video,” Wells said. “But he went back and looked at pretty much every swing over the course of the season and said the only difference is my hands are getting a little bit away from my body [and] a little bit in a swing can throw you off completely.
“We were talking today about my hand path going to the ball and it could be getting away from my body a little bit. Get back to keeping my hands close to my body and keeping the bat in the zone. Sometimes the more you try to go to the opposite side, your hands tend to travel sometimes and I’ve got to get back inside the ball and really emphasize that and stick with that.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.