BOSTON – Despite Friday’s shellacking in the Game 1 of their ALDS against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Rays manager Joe Maddon said his team is in a good place. That includes right fielder Wil Myers, who was hooted mercilessly after his fourth-inning gaffe on Friday opened the door for five Red Sox runs.
“I hope his oblivious nature really takes over today,” Maddon quipped before Game 2 Saturday afternoon. “One of the things that I thought really helped him coming into this baseball season is that when I got to know him, he was not overwhelmed with anything. He ran into a difficult moment at home recently. We played Texas where [Elvis] Andrus scored on a routine single to right field . . . and I thought he learned a pretty good lesson there."
On Friday, Myers peeled off from a catchable drive to right-center field by David Ortiz and allowed the ball to drop for a ground-rule double, opening the door to a five-run Boston inning. Myers said he saw center fielder Desmond Jennings out of the corner of eye on his right, although Jennings never called for the catch.
“Yesterday, listen, that was a mental mistake," said Maddon. "That wasn’t a lack of hustle. That was a mental mistake . . . in a relatively big game, and he was confused. He thought he heard something and he got out of the way. So that happens, and then beyond that it could be exacerbated by the Fenway faithful, when they’re going to get quite loud right there.
"If he channels that properly, it could work to his advantage, actually. There’s a lot of great players in the history of sport that like to be booed or maybe have your name chanted loudly." (Red Sox fans serenaded the Rays' rookie with chants of "MY-ERS! MY-ERS!" for much of the day.) "If he could possibly channel it in a positive direction, you might see a couple of balls fly over the wall today.
“I talked to him this morning. He was in good spirits. I lent my expertise to the moment and not really trying to be too knowledgeable, because I’m not when it comes to that particular moment. But nevertheless, I thought he was in a good place today. So, we’ll see how it plays out.”
Maddon stressed, though, that he did not believe anybody in the Sox bullpen said anything to Myers on the play. Speculation built yesterday that someone in the Sox pen called Myers off the ball.
“No, [it was] footsteps. Footsteps. He heard footsteps or a visual from the side,” Maddon said.
“There’s no chicanery by the Red Sox. Although I would not put it past them."
Yes, the last part was meant to be a joke.
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