Myers returns as All-Star with good memories

Padres slugger began Major League career in 2013 with Rays

Myers returns as All-Star with good memories

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wil Myers smiled while looking out at the pregame activity at Tropicana Field ahead of the Rays' opener against the Padres on Monday night -- Myers first time back since the Rays traded him to the Padres.

"I always liked this place," he said.

The 25-year-old, named to his first All-Star Game this season, said he loved hitting at Tropicana Field.

"I really enjoyed playing here," Myers said. "A lot of people talk about it, it's kind of boring here. But I really loved playing here. You see the ball really well. It's a great place to hit. I love St. Pete. So I'm excited to be back here."

Myers came to the Rays prior to the 2013 season in a blockbuster trade that sent James ShieldsWade Davis and Elliot Johnson to the Royals in exchange for Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

Myers began the 2013 season at Triple-A Durham, joining the Rays in the middle of the year. He went on to hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in 88 games, opening enough eyes to win the American League's Rookie of the Year Award.

"My best memory of the Rays is that postseason run we had in 2013," Myers said. "That's something I'll never forget. It was a really cool thing, being my first time in the big leagues and going to the postseason. It was a lot of fun. The team was great. My teammates were great. That was a great run and something I'll never forget."

Wrist and hand injuries haunted Myers the following season in 2014, and the Rays shipped him to the Padres in a three-team deal with the Padres and Nationals, which resulted in the Rays receiving Steven Souza Jr.

"Definitely surprised [that he got traded]," Myers said. "Obviously, winning Rookie of the Year, you think you're going to be in a place for awhile. I bought a place here, but I had to sell it after that. I definitely thought I was going to be here. Definitely came as a surprise to me. But that's the way this game works. Anybody's tradeable at any given time."

Looking in the rearview mirror, Myers said he "didn't necessarily know what it was to be a big leaguer and playing every single day" when he played for the Rays.

"I was kind of young and dumb," Myers said. "But that kind of comes with the growing pains. I really felt like this year was the first time I really learned how to play the game the right way. That's something I wish I could have given Tampa a little more. But it's better to learn later than never."

Myers allowed that the trade might have served him a much-needed wake-up call.

"Yeah, maybe," Myers said. "It definitely could have been. It's something that I wouldn't change anything that's happened. The way things have gone this year, I'm glad that I was able to change scenery and learn the game a little better."

Being healthy has also helped Myers find the production many thought he could achieve when the Rays acquired him.

"Just finally healthy," he said. "That's the biggest thing. Being here in 2014 was really tough with this wrist issue. Also, in 2015, I had the same deal. So now that I'm finally healthy, I'm able to go out there and have consistent at-bats. That's where you grow as a player and learn a little more."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.