ANAHEIM, Calif. — Manager Joe Maddon would have put nine left-handed hitters in Thursday’s lineup if he could have against Angels RHP Jerome Williams. But there was one right-handed hitter Maddon wanted in the game — Wil Myers.
Maddon wasn’t about to give Myers a night off now that the rookie is emerging from his slump. Besides, Maddon only sat Myers for one game during his 0-for-22 run, and that was by design.
“I know that seems like maybe a reach from a distance, but look at the numbers on the board. We have nobody else capable of doing that other than him,” Maddon said.
Maddon was referring to Myers’ line of .291 batting average, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 244 at-bats.
“We don’t have that, and that’s in a very limited time,” Maddon said. “The biggest concern I have there is inexperience and youth, more than the fact that he was struggling, not hitting the baseball. How is a young guy going to react? That is what you have to keep an eye on.”
Myers snapped his slump with a ninth-inning double Saturday. That began a run of seven hits in 17 at-bats, with six of those hits going for extra bases, including a pair of long home runs in Wednesday’s win.
Myers, who accounted for all of the Rays’ runs with those two homers, drove the second one 431 feet for the longest homer of his brief major-league career.
Afterward, Myers was asked about remaining in the lineup through his slump.
“The only way to get through a slump is to keep hitting,” he said. “You can’t take games off. The only way to get the feel back is to keep playing. It was big to keep being in the lineup.”
It was the same approach Maddon used with closer Fernando Rodney earlier in the season when Rodney was blowing saves.
“To just want to throw them to the back of the line, then you’re not going to win the World Series. You’re not,” Maddon said. “These guys have to be there doing what they do for you to go to the World Series and win it. That’s the whole point. You still want to try to fight your way to the playoffs, the guys who have to do it have to do it, and these are the guys who can carry us when they’re playing well.”
Speaking of Wil
3B Evan Longoria had 20 light-blue Rays T-shirts printed with the words “Team Wil” written on the back and distributed them to select players.
“Luckily, I got one of them,” Myers said.
He said it’s the first time he’s had a T-shirt made in his honor.
“You got to be both good and well-liked,” Maddon said.
Now, about his nickname? Maddon has been calling Myers “Ricky Bobby” for Will Ferrell’s character in the movie “Talladega Nights.”
“I don’t get it, really,” Myers said. “I don’t think I’m anything like him at all.
“But whatever he likes …”
Rotation for Boston
LHP David Price and RHP Alex Cobb will face the Red Sox next week during the three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Price could stay in the rotation and pitch Tuesday’s opener, or the Rays could use RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Jake Odorizzi or RHP Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday.
Maddon will take advantage of Monday’s off day to shuffle the rotation and give RHP Chris Archer some late-season rest.
The Mariners shuffled their rotation, so the Rays will miss LHP Felix Hernandez on Sunday. ... The Rays grounded into at least one double play in 11 straight games heading into Thursday’s game. The team record is 12 straight games, set in 2000.