The Tampa Bay Rays still have a shot at making the playoffs as they currently sit 7.0 games back of the second AL Wild Card spot. But after going 8-9 to start the month of August, they desperately need a boost to overcome that deficit. They might have found that boost, as Wil Myers was activated from the 60-day DL after missing 12 weeks due to a wrist injury. In corresponding moves, Jerry Sands was transferred to the 60-day DL and Vince Belnome was sent down to Triple-A Durham.
Myers has the chance to be an impact bat for the Rays. In 2013, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award despite playing in just 88 games. He hit .293/.354/.478 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 373 plate appearances to be a crucial part of the Rays lineup in the second half of the season. This year having Myers for a full season was expected to give the Rays lineup a big boost. But, Myers began the year by hitting just .227/.313/.354 in 53 games. Then to make matters worse, a collision with Desmond Jennings resulted in a wrist fracture that cost Myers significant time.
Despite the disappointing stats this season, Myers will be an everyday player for the Rays upon his return. He should see significant time at right field, left field, and DH (where he is penciled in for tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers). Having Myers will make it harder to find playing time for a Rays’ outfield that already includes Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Joyce, Jennings, and Brandon Guyer. It will also take away playing time from Sean Rodriguez and Logan Forsythe with Ben Zobrist seeing less time in the outfield. The roster crunch isn’t over either, as David DeJesus just started his rehab.
For Belnome, it has been a roller coaster two days. Just yesterday, he smacked his first MLB hit, a double, as well as his first RBI. Then one day later, he finds himself back at Triple-A Durham. Don’t expect Belnome to stay there long though, as he is likely to be recalled when rosters expand in September. For the time being he will continue playing around the diamond at Triple-A, though he will spend most of his time at first base and DH.
All-in-all this could be the push that the Rays desperately need to get themselves back into the playoff picture. But for that to happen, Wil Myers has to return to his previous form after disappointing in the first part of the season. The good news is that he is simply back on the field- the first step he needs re-establish himself as one of the best young hitters in all of baseball.