Myers learning from grind of 1st full big league season

Padres slugger within striking distance of 30-30 campaign

Myers learning from grind of 1st full big league season

ATLANTA -- In a clubhouse filled with rookies and other youngsters, Wil Myers serves as something of a grizzled veteran by Padres standards.

Of course, that isn't exactly fair to the slugging 25-year-old first baseman, who has never played a full season at the big league level -- until this year.

The grind of that Major League season could very well be catching up to Myers, who entered September batting just .200 with a .327 slugging percentage since the All-Star Break. But Myers may have begun to right the ship Thursday, going 2-for-4 with a homer in a 9-6 loss to the Braves. He now needs six homers and six steals to become MLB's first 30-30 man in four seasons -- a tall task, but certainly possible.

"I'm just grinding through this right now; it's been a little tough," Myers said. "I couldn't be happier with how things have gone so far this year. Obviously I have a lot to learn, but it's been a little different playing this full season, because it's been so long since I have."

Even though Myers struggled mightily in August, the fact that he was on the field to do so can be viewed as a positive. He played a total of 147 games over the past two seasons because of separate wrist injuries.

This year marks the first time Myers has stayed healthy into September since his American League Rookie of the Year Award-winning 2013 campaign. But even then, he only played in 88 big league games after being called up by the Rays in mid-June.

"It's definitely a learning experience," Myers said. "Everything that's happened so far this year has been -- but especially the second half."

Padres skipper Andy Green noted that Myers is feeling fine physically. But the mental burdens are beginning to stack up.

Myers made his first All-Star team in July and didn't get a breather then. There have also been murmurs of a potential contract extension for him (which wouldn't take place until after the season, but could be affecting his psyche nonetheless).

And on top of that, the Padres offense is relying on Myers more heavily than ever before, after Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. were dealt at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"Matt's gone, Melvin's gone, and the roster's kind of turned over," Green said. "Now you're not just expected to produce a little bit in a side spot in the lineup; you're trying to anchor it. I think he's applied some of that pressure to himself. He's trying to carry that. Pretty much everybody in the game who becomes 'the guy' goes through that."

Of course, the mental effects of a full big league season aren't limited to Myers. The Padres' offense -- which routinely starts four or five rookies -- struggled in August after impressing in June and July. Green has had conversations with his players, encouraging them to finish strong and telling them to "run through the finish line" -- his new go-to catchphrase.

As the Padres enter September, that's Myers' goal, and he did his part Thursday.

"Not [playing a full season] for two years is the biggest thing," Myers said when asked about his slump. "But you just learn from these types of things. This is only going to make me better for the future. Right now, I've just got to keep grinding and finish on a good note here in September."

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