Downtime testing will of injured Rays slugger Myers
With right wrist in cast since May 30 collision, right fielder 'itching to get back'
ST. PETERSBURG -- Boredom isn't supposed to be a part of Wil Myers' summer.
Summer is for playing baseball, taking big swings, rounding the bases and doing whatever it takes to win the game. Sitting idle isn't in the equation.
Alas, the Rays right fielder ran into a freight train -- better known as the Desmond Jennings Express -- in Fenway Park's center-field graveyard. The collision came on May 30 in the bottom of the 10th when the pair of outfielders tried to run down A.J. Pierzynski's blast. The ball fell to the ground, resulting in a game-winning RBI triple for Pierzynski and a right wrist stress fracture for Myers.
"It was one of those balls where neither one of us knew who was going to make the play," Myers said. "Both of us just trying to get there, and we got there at the same time."
Myers' wrist has been in a cast since, an experience like watching paint dry or grass grow for the 23-year-old.
"I've never sat around like this before," Myers said of his plight. "Never had a cast before, never been hurt for this extended period of time -- it stinks. I'm just at the point now where it's like, 'Let's get going.' I come to the field every day and I have nothing to do -- work out for an hour, do some running, then I'm done for the day. It's just frustrating to sit out there and watch every single day."
Myers will have the cast taken off his wrist in the next several days. If that goes well, he will begin the arduous process of getting his wrist healthy enough to swing a bat. Then he's got to get his swing right.
"I definitely have to go through a rehab stage where I'll have to build up the strength in my wrist," Myers said. "We're not exactly sure how long that's going to take. We won't know until the X-ray comes back. So we'll see then."
Myers is bracing himself for an atrophied right forearm once the cast comes off.
"They took the cast off earlier and my forearm was pretty skinny," Myers said. "So I know this time it will be even more so."
When Myers first went on the disabled list, there didn't seem to be any urgency for his return. The Rays were a team headed nowhere, and the future of Tampa Bay's young slugger appeared most important. But now that the Rays' season has been resuscitated, there is motivation to get Myers up to speed to help with a late run.
Healing a wrist injury is a tricky endeavor, though. Particularly for someone like Myers, who whips the bat through the strike zone with fury. Despite Tampa Bay's situation, caution will continue to drive the process.
"It's just making sure [the wrist is] at full strength," Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "We have to be sure that when the time comes he's physically ready to swing. We're fortunate because our training staff is so good, so there's not going to be any rush.
"You just want to make sure he gradually goes into it. Because if you don't, there's going to be deficiencies in the swing before he starts and you're going to have to change something that he did because he was hurt."
If there is a bright side to Myers' injury, it is the fact that the time off has allowed his left hand to heal. Myers injured the hand while sliding in the sixth game of the season and never quite felt right, which could be seen as being a factor in the numbers he had accrued -- a .227/.313/.354 slash line, five homers, 25 RBIs -- by the time he went on the disabled list.
"It's definitely better now," Myers said. "[The time off] has been good for my hand."
Time off just hasn't been good for Myers' sanity. In the past, he never played video games. Myers now owns his first Xbox. He's had a visit from his girlfriend, Maggie, whom he's dated since high school, and he took time to visit his younger brother, Beau, when he took part in a baseball showcase held in the Atlanta area.
"It was pretty cool just to see him play," Myers said. "Because, honestly, that's probably the only time I'll ever get to see him play in the summer again. So I wanted to take the opportunity to do it. ... He did well."
Aside from the boredom, Myers' angst stems from the fact he misses the game he loves so.
"I miss hitting the most," Myers said. "Obviously, that's my favorite part of the game, just being able to hit in the cage, BP, all of that, I haven't been able to swing a bat in six weeks."
Rays manager Joe Maddon often talks about giving players days off so they can watch the game and remember why they love the game. In essence, gain some perspective. Myers laughed when asked if he's gained a new perspective from his ordeal. "No, I hate it, I have no perspective."
"You know what, I've actually taken some notes, watching some video of me hitting," Myers said. "Things that I was feeling in those at-bats, because I can remember almost every at-bat I've had. So I go back and write down what I was thinking in those particular at-bats. What was and wasn't working for me."
Myers believes that he had gotten too mechanical at the beginning of the season and had allowed too many scouting reports to flood his mind.
"I was overanalyzing everything instead of doing what works for me," Myers said. "Last year, I'd just go up there with my plan and until two strikes, just stick to my plan."
Myers stopped talking and looked around at teammates taking hack in the cage.
"I'm itching to get back," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.