ST. PETERSBURG - RF Wil Myers did not start Tuesday for the first time since he joined the Rays on June 18, and the reasons differed for the break.
Manager Joe Maddon said he wanted to give Myers a day off and get UTL Kelly Johnson a start. Myers said he has detected a hole in his swing and could use a rest.
Said Myers: "It's a good chance to catch my breath a little bit, a nice mental day off."
Said Maddon: "With Kelly, I don't want him to sit that long. He's been swinging the bat well recently."
Maddon said he planned to sit Myers on Thursday, but he liked his matchup against Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey. Besides, it's a 12:10 p.m. start following a night game.
"He's like 17, so he can play a day game after a night game," Maddon said.
Myers had five hits in his last 31 at-bats entering Tuesday's game. The .161 batting average since the start of the series in Houston is a drop-off from the .296 average he compiled through the first 13 games of his big-league career.
"The last few days, my swing has felt a little long," Myers said. "We've been working on the inside pitch, staying through the ball, staying tall."
Myers took early batting practice Tuesday in an attempt to correct the problem. Despite teams having the benefit of scouting Myers during the past three weeks, Myers said he is not being pitched to any differently than he was when he first joined the Rays.
"I don't want to say it's really any different," he said. "The last few games, I've gotten some pitches to hit and just haven't been able to take advantage of them right now. There's a flaw in my swing. That's what we're working on (Tuesday). Once I figure that out, I feel I'll take off again."
Maddon said he has not watched Myers hit enough to notice anything wrong with the rookie's swing.
"I think getting him off his feet (Tuesday) actually is going to turn out to be a good thing, just watch a big-league game," Maddon said. "I just don't know the guy well enough to say I'm seeing anything definitive."
Maddon said RHP Jeremy Hellickson's four-game winning streak is a sign Hellickson has overcome the first bad streak of his big-league career.
"I tell you one thing I really like is how he has struggled and come back from the struggle here," Maddon said. "It's tough to do that in the big league sometimes. I don't know if he's really struggled like that here, so to be able to struggle like that, right himself and pitch back at this level is really impressive."
Hellickson, who will try to win his fifth consecutive start tonight when he faces the Twins, said he's struggled at the big-league level but not to the extent where he was giving away leads at the rate he did earlier this season.
"But I kept grinding," Hellickson said, "kept working and things came around, and hopefully they stay this way. . I'm just pitching better is really what it comes down to, getting ahead and keeping the ball down."
SS Yunel Escobar's seventh-inning homer Monday was the 100th of the season for the Rays, making this the fewest games (90) to reach the century mark in homers since the 2009 team did it in 77 games.
"Some guys had been hot and cooled off," Maddon said. "They're going to get hot and hit some home runs again."
On the catwalk
The eighth annual Rays on the Runway is scheduled for Thursday at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Members of the Rays, along with their wives and girlfriends, will join "dream children" in the annual fashion to benefit the Children's Dream Fund.
For tickets, go to childrensdreamfund.org or contact Cynthia Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maddon said he does not plan to give 3B Evan Longoria a day off on this homestand, which means Longoria is scheduled to play Thursday's afternoon game after tonight's game. . Triple-A Durham LHP C.J. Riefenhauser will replace RHP Taylor Guerrieri on the U.S. roster for Sunday's Futures Game at Citi Field.