San Diego Vet Will Myers Shares How the Padres Are Handling the New Pressure of Expectations
The Padres were one of the nice surprises of the shortened 2020 MLB season
After finishing under .500 and out of the postseason for nearly a decade, the San Diego Padres were one of the surprises of the shortened 2020 MLB season, going 37-23 and defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Series before falling in the NL Division Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who went on to win the World Series.
Expectations were low heading into 2020, but the Padres were not afforded the same luxury this year, after adding star pitchers Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove to a rotation that was already complemented by a potent lineup featuring sluggers like Trent Grisham, Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatís Jr.
For the first time in a long time, there’s a close eye on the perpetually rebuilding Padres and Will Myers, who is playing his seventh season in San Diego, is embracing it.
“With me being here so long. I’ve been able to go through the entire rebuild process. You don’t see too many players that have the ability to go from the start to the finish of a rebuild. It’s been interesting,” Myers, who’s been bringing Padres co-branded cans from Cutwater Spirits into the clubhouse this season, tells InsideHook. “It’s been really fun to watch this front office go to work and see their plan really come together. I’ve been very happy I made it to the end, I can tell you that. To know where the Padres were a few years ago — having that experience is big. It helps you in your day-to-day going through the majors. I think we have a group that’s going to be able to manage expectations and go out there and win ball games. We have a good amount of players who can carry the burden.”
Myers, who slashed 288/.353/.606 with 17 home runs last season, thinks the experience of making it into the playoffs, and losing, in 2020 will help the team succeed in 2021.
“Coming into spring training after experiencing the playoffs, I think is a big deal,” he says. “We had a nice series against the Cardinals and didn’t do so hot against the Dodgers. I think that left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Those are the things that make you more hungry heading into the next season. Getting to experience winning baseball and the postseason is a great motivator. I feel like that’s where we’re at right now. Losing a tough series at the end of the season stays with you during the offseason. It makes you remember exactly what it felt like, and it helps you find ways to come out and be able to win ball games next year.”
To get where they want to go, the Padres will likely have to go through their division rivals, the Dodgers, who were favored to repeat as champs entering the year and are one of the hottest team in MLB to start the 2021 season. Myers is aware of this, but he believes San Diego, not LA, needs to be his team’s focus if they want to have success.
“We play the Dodgers 19 times every year, and they’re going to be great games, but I know if we focus too much on the Dodgers and what they’re doing and trying to match them, then we won’t be as good as we can be,” Myers says. “We want to go out and beat any division rival, and when those guys come into town, I understand there’s going to be a lot more hype to those games. But at the end of the day, we have to focus on the San Diego Padres and what makes us good. And I feel like if we do that, we’ll be able to take care of business against any team.”
One of the reasons Myers feels San Diego can compete against any other team in MLB is the camaraderie present in the clubhouse.
“One thing that’s big for us is all the guys get along really well,” he says. “That’s something you don’t see too often when you have 25 or 26 guys around each other for a long period of time. Usually, there are rifts in the clubhouse. One thing that this Padres team has is great chemistry. Guys like to hang out with other guys. It’s pretty cool to see a team that is really good that also gets along really well off the field as well.”
In addition to hanging out and kicking back with Cutwater’s Padres Vodka Mules and Padres Tequila Palomas, Myers and his teammates will play video games and talk shop after games.
“I haven’t gotten into it too much, but Call of Duty is the big game right now. I’m not very good, but I like hanging out with the guys who are playing,” Myers says. “It’s not always necessarily with alcohol, but guys always hang out after games. It’s a way to unwind after a game. You play for three hours, you get hyped up and a lot of times you need 20 or 30 minutes to hang out with the guys and talk about the game. It’s a good way to unwind. It’s a part of the big leagues, and it also helps you learn about the game too because you’re just sitting around and talking baseball.”
A topic that sometimes comes up? Bat flipping.
“Bat flipping is a big thing, especially now that we have Fernando Tatis on the team. He’s great at them. I think it’s cool for the game,” Myers says. “You hear all the old-school guys saying it’s bad for the game. Blah, blah, blah, whatever. At the end of the day, the kids enjoy it. They like watching young players like Fernando Tatis do that. It brings more popularity and emotion to the game. If a guy hits a big home run, he wants to celebrate it, fine. Pitchers get to make a big strikeout and yell walking off the mound too. Obviously, you don’t want to walk too far down the first baseline after you hit a home run, but you get your couple of seconds to do what you want to do and get around the bases.”
Speaking of Tatís, who is quickly becoming the face of MLB, having him on the roster is another reason Myers thinks the Padres can hang with anyone.
“I’ve been able to see him for a couple of years now, and he’s a great player,” Myers says. “He’s just extremely talented. Obviously, he’s going to learn some things here and there that are going to help him with his swing or help him on defense and other parts of the game. But, he can do a lot of things on the baseball field that other people just can’t do. He’s got all five tools and can hit with power and hit for average. It’s a lot of fun to watch him play every single day.”
How about answering Tatís questions on a daily basis?
“That’s all I have to do now. It’s the Fernando Tatis show,” Myers says. “People want to know about him and I don’t blame them. I don’t mind answering questions about him. I get to watch this guy play on a daily basis, and he’s arguably the top player in the game. It’s been pretty cool to watch the years go by and watch him get better. I’ve got my Tatis questions down pat now.”
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