Myers returns to The K amid mostly indifference
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The long-awaited major league debut of Wil Myers at Kauffman Stadium came, obviously, with Myers in the wrong uniform Monday.
But the outrage over the December trade that sent Myers and two other prospects to Tampa Bay for James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson has downshifted somewhat, from high-pitched screams to perhaps more under-the-breath groans.
And if you were expecting any escalation of that anger during Monday’s tilt with the Rays — the makeup game from May’s infamous snow-out — well, let’s just say Kansas City reacted with mostly a collective yawn.
With the temperature a sizzling 93 degrees — about 52 degrees warmer than during that May postponement — most Royals fans chose to sit out the “Return of Wil.”
The announced crowd of 20,546 included tickets sold from that original May game, which was called after four innings with the Royals leading 1-0.
The actual attendance Monday was much closer to about 3,000 fans, most of those huddled under the upper-deck overhang and away from the scorching sun. And those fans barely acknowledged the presence of Myers, greeting him with just a few dozen cheers and perhaps three or four boos each time he was announced at the plate.
Myers’ performance, too, was just an anonymous — he flied out, struck out twice and popped out. He was somewhat late retreating to a long drive by Alex Gordon in right field that wound up as a triple, and he threw wildly with a decent chance to gun down the hobbling Mike Moustakas on a double.
Fortunately for Myers, his expectations on playing his former organization were low.
“I feel like it’s a little different because I’m playing against the team that drafted me, so it’s not just any game,” Myers said before the game. “But really, it’s just a game that we need to win.”
Myers also wasn’t sure what reaction he’d draw in Kansas City.
“I really don’t know what will happen because it’s a Monday day game,” he said, “so I don’t know how many people will be here.”
Myers, though, does know there is a contingent of Royals fans who still feel the trade wasn’t a good one, that he was too valuable a prospect to give up.
“You see some things on Twitter that (Royals fans) wish I was back,” Myers said. “But hey, things change. That’s baseball.”
And as shocked as Myers was originally by the deal, he has adapted to his new surroundings and his new organization rather rapidly.
“My goal was always just to get to the big leagues, no matter what team I was playing for,” he said. “Playing my minor league career with Kansas City, obviously I wanted to be a Royal. But things have changed.
“I didn’t think I would be traded, but I got traded to a great organization and I think it worked out both ways.”
The Royals clearly have benefited from having Shields, who is only 8-8. But his 3.22 ERA has kept the Royals close in virtually every start, and as a team, the Royals have won 15 times during his starts.
“That’s the great thing, that it worked out for both sides,” Myers said.
Myers has been exactly what the Rays were looking for — a young outfielder with some pop. Myers entered the game Monday with a .302 average, nine homers and 39 RBIs.
Myers, though, as one would expect, is scuffling as the league gets a better read on how to pitch him. Myers is now 5 for his last 35.
“I know you’re going to go through this in the big leagues,” Myers said. “You constantly make adjustments and the pitchers make adjustments.
“I think it’s been going well overall. I think I should have some better power numbers, but I know that will come with time and experience.”
Myers did have one wish for his return to Kauffman Stadium, where he played briefly in last summer’s Futures Game:
“I would like to put one in the fountains,” he said. “That would help the team.”
Not this time.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.