NEW YORK -- Baseball relishes its traditions, and pranking promising young players will presumably persist in perpetuity, which is something Wil Myers learned this week.
The Rays’ rightfielder, Baseball America’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year who was acquired in a trade with the Royals this winter, was playing with the Triple-A Durham Bulls on Sunday when he was removed from the game after one at-bat (a double).
“I was told I may or may not be going to the majors,” he recalled Thursday.
Triple-A managers are notorious for joking around with players about to make their debut in the show, so Myers wasn’t about to receive a straight answer -- though his abrupt departure from the game was certainly a pretty strong indication of what was to come. Upon retreating to the clubhouse, he was handed his flight itinerary to Boston, where he made his big league debut in Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Red Sox.
It did, of course, include some good-natured rookie initiation, as Myers’ teammates made him sing the national anthem on the bus yesterday.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “They booed me right away.”
The way the schedule fell meant Myers is playing his first two series against the storied Red Sox and Yankees on the road, allowing him to play at historic Fenway Park and the new Yankee Stadium.
Even though he debuted with a doubleheader Tuesday, he made sure to partake fully in optional batting practice so he could shag balls in the quirky dimensions of Fenway’s right field and take some swings to get a sense of the backdrop sightlines.
Myers popped out to center on his first big-league pitch from Boston’s Alfredo Aceves.
“I was a little anxious, obviously,” Myers said. “I didn’t swing at a great pitch. I think it was just some first-game jitters.”
Myers, who hit 14 homers with a .876 OPS in 64 Triple-A games, singled in his first at-bat of the day’s second game for his first big-league hit, and through three games has gone 2-for-12 with a double and two RBI. He said he’s been surprised by the amount of attention surrounding his first week, but that all of his teammates have treated him well. “It’s been awesome,” he said, “and everything I thought it would be.”