Myers showing great potential at first base

Former outfielder putting in extra work for transition to full-time position

Myers showing great potential at first base

PEORIA, Ariz. -- "First baseman Wil Myers" is a phrase that took some getting used to for the one-time outfielder who was dealt to the Padres in December 2014.

Myers has spent this spring getting accustomed to the new title and -- more importantly -- getting comfortable with the nuances of his new position.

He's often one of the first players on the Padres' main practice field, taking ground balls and working on positioning and footwork with coaches Glenn Hoffman and Eddie Rodriguez. That extra work appears to have paid off in game action, as Myers has looked crisp -- albeit in limited chances -- at first base.

"I've learned a ton from them," Myers said. "The experience that they have working in the infield is only going to help me."

Myers' diving stop

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The Padres acquired Myers from Tampa Bay with ill-fated plans to use him as a center fielder. They began using him at first in May, but he continued splitting time between the infield and outfield.

Myers played only 22 games at first base last year, but it was enough to convince the Padres they'd found a home for him. They handed him the keys to the first-base job in the offseason.

"He's refining, he's learning over there," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He's played [24] games in his life at first base. So he's still learning the postion. There's a lot of future potential there, but there's still a lot of growth left."

Green on Myers, Padres bullpen

No one knows that better than Myers, who spent his offseason working first-base-specific workouts. To improve his footwork around the bag, Myers went through a daily series of ladder drills.

"I'm still brand new to the position," Myers said. "It's not one thing -- I want to get better with my footwork. I want to get better at everything."

For Myers, taking ground balls and making throws are the easiest part of his new job -- which makes sense, given that those were integral parts of his job as an outfielder as well.

But the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year said his biggest offseason improvement has been getting off the base quickly after holding runners on. He also feels much more comfortable on bunts, cutoffs and relays.

"He's capable of anything any first baseman in the game is capable of," said Green. "He's capable of shutting down the bunting game, he's capable of ranging over into the four-hole deeply. He's capable of making picks, stretching well."

McGwire on Padres camp, Myers

In Green's eyes, the defensive ceiling is extremely high for Myers, given his all-around athleticism. And one first baseman with a whole lot of big league experience agrees.

"He can be as good as he wants," said Padres bench coach Mark McGwire. "First base, everybody thinks it's a very easy position -- it's not. You're pretty much in every play of the game. You have to be in tune.

"He's just a tremendous athlete. So when you have somebody that's a tremendous athlete like that, it shouldn't take long."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.