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Wil Myers & the Importance of Heart and Hustle

Photo: © Keeton10 | Dreamstime.com

Not surprisingly Clayton Richard won this year’s Heart and Hustle Award for the Padres. Throughout his nine-year career, he has always been known as a hard worker and clubhouse leader.

“He’s a veteran guy who doesn’t come off as intimidating,” Travis Jankowski told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune when the Padres resigned Richard. “He’s always there to help. He’ll stop you and tell you, ‘Hey, we don’t do that’ or ‘Clean that up.’ But he’s all about helping. He’s such a great leader. I love Clayton Richard.”

Unfortunately the “face of the franchise,” Wil Myers will not be nominated for that award anytime soon. It has not gone unnoticed by reporters, broadcasters or fans that Myers leaves a bit to be desired in the hustle department.

“Wil Myers just singled off the right-field wall. His lack of urgency out of the box is becoming a bit of an unfortunate trend this year.” AJ Cassavell, MLB beat reporter for the Padres, tweeted Wednesday night.

That comment generated 92 likes, as well as multiple responses. Nic summed up the collective sentiment by tweeting “‪@wilmyers‪ for the love of everything good in this game…can you please run hard out of the box? Ball off the wall needs to be a double.”  Longtime Padres’ broadcaster Ted Leitner called Myers’ lack of hustle egregious.

Manager Andy Green, however, did absolutely nothing. Myers stayed in the game and played the next, as he has after every other instance of lackadaisical effort. By contrast, in Dave Roberts’ first year as manager of the Dodgers, he faced a similar situation when problem child Yasiel Puig, thinking he’d hit a home run, admired the ball’s flight and turned a double into a single. Roberts benched Puig the next day. When Matt Williams managed the Washington Nationals he pulled Bryce Harper for not hustling.

Unfortunately, Myer’s lack of hustle should come as no surprise since he arrived in San Diego with that reputation. When the Rays traded Myers Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin wrote that “his immediate absence doesn’t seem significant given his poor 2014 performance.” However, Topkin considered the move the “…boldest, thus riskiest, move Silverman made. That’s because of the chance that Myers, a)learns to take the game more seriously and b) reaches his potential to be the middle-of-the-order bat.”

In Tampa Bay, Myers followed his 2013 Rookie-of-the-Year campaign with a disappointing year, batting .222/.294/320. After that season, he told Marc Topkin “…this year I kind of came into spring training thinking I had already arrived and didn’t really work as hard as I should have, like I did the year before.”

Does that sound familiar, Padres fans? After Myers’ appearance as an All Star in 2016, he admitted that he let up the rest of the season, telling Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune “it was like, ‘I’m an All-Star. I did it.”

“And then I had 2 ½ months left to play. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t lock back in quick enough into the second half. I was still in that All-Star hangover,” Myers continued.

To his credit, Myers candidly admitted his lack of effort and preparation after his All-Star appearance. However, that has not translated into the all out effort on the field that should be expected of anyone fortunate enough to play this game. In fact, the designated “face of the franchise” should lead the team in heart and hustle. Andy Green, the coaching staff, and the entire front office should insist on nothing less from Wil Myers.

If he doesn’t deliver, there’s plenty of room on the bench.

 

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