Myers to focus on mental aspects of game

Padres first baseman looking for more consistency next season

Myers to focus on mental aspects of game

SAN DIEGO -- As the Padres packed up after their final homestand, with bats, bags and boxes scattered around the clubhouse, Wil Myers stood in front of his locker and discussed the most difficult season of his career.

The muddled room around Myers matched the state of his mind for much of the year. The game sped up on him. He was unsure how to correct, how to get himself back to his 2016 All-Star form. It was, in many ways, a mess.

Sunday, after the Padres lost, 8-4, to Colorado in their home finale, Myers had a positive result to cling to. Despite the first baseman's struggles through the year, his first-inning home run gave him 29 in 2017, beating the career high he set a year ago.

"All in all, this year's been a little bit of a disappointment for me, not to be able to put up better numbers more consistently," Myers said, "but to be able to have a bad year and put up 29 homers, that's something to hang your hat on."

Myers, firmly entrenched as the face of the franchise at 26, signed a six-year, $83 million extension in the offseason. The second half of 2016 was mostly troublesome for him; he saw a .286/.351/.522 slash line at the All-Star break drop to .259/.336/.461 before the final week of the season.

Myers began 2017 with improved results, as he hit .310 in April. From there, he plummeted.

At times, he lost the confidence that endeared him to San Diego's fanbase. He finessed his mechanics in a desperate attempt to make something click. From May to August, he hit .209.

"I tried not swinging, I tried swinging left-handed in the cage, I tried swinging a golf club," Myers said. "I tried literally everything. There's literally nothing that you could say for me to try that I didn't try going through this.

"I think there's a lot more in the tank for me to become a better player, and at some point, I've got to be able to reach that."

In September, Myers has reason for hope. He slowed the game down, removing the clutter in his mind. He's hitting .316 this month and raised his season OPS to .799.

He finished 2016 at .797.

"He's scratching the surface still," Padres manager Andy Green said. "There's a ton of talent in Wil, and I think you see it in flashes. It's easy to dream on. I think he's determined to go through this offseason in a fashion that sets him up for success for six months of the baseball season, not just a couple."

Myers declined to blame the pressure he feels on the contract, rather on his own desire to succeed. He said he'll see a sport psychologist this offseason. He did so before 2016, coming off consecutive injury-shortened seasons, saying he didn't have "the right mental tools." This time, he seeks an approach to failure.

"Nothing compares to being healthy and being bad," Myers said. "It was moreso me banging my head in the cage opposed to just letting the game come to me. If I would've had a better mental state, I would've played better this year instead of letting my failures in the batter's box really control how my day was going."

When the questions were finished, Myers turned to his disarrayed locker. He began to put his mess behind him.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.