Rays pregame notes | Maddon plays hunch, inserts Myers in cleanup spot for Game 3

jlembo@bradenton.comOctober 7, 2013 

— Batting in cleanup Monday night for the Tampa Bay Rays is…

Wil Myers?

The rookie has had his troubles during his first postseason, but manager Joe Maddon has him sandwiched between Evan Longoria and James Loney for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Myers is hitless in nine at-bats in the series and his misplay of David Ortiz’s fly ball in Game 1 helped stoke a pivotal Red Sox rally.

“I really think he’s a special kid,” Maddon said Monday afternoon. “I think this is the perfect opportunity for him to really kind of turn things around for himself right now.”

Acquired in an offseason trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City, Myers was considered baseball’s best prospect heading into this year. After beginning the season with Triple-A Durham, Myers hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in 88 games, making him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.

“I thought he handled everything great,” Maddon said, referring to Myers’ defensive gaffe earlier in the series. “I really believe in the accountability factor where if you are accountable, you are permitted to get better, you are allowed to get better, you deserve to be better…I think he did everything properly.

“Let’s just continue to move it forward. This guy is a really good major league baseball player, and he’s going to be a great one eventually.”

JOYCE OVER YOUNG: With the right-handed Clay Buchholz pitching for Boston, left-handed Matt Joyce will serve as the designated hitter over Delmon Young.

Joyce is batting seventh.

“It’s a close call,” Maddon said. “The other part of it is we have Delmon on the bench if necessary in latter part of the game.”

Joyce hit a career-worst .235 in 140 games this season but was second on the team with 18 home runs.

“Keeping Matty’s skill set involved also moving forward – hopefully we’re going to play more games – I thought it was important,” Maddon said. “But Buchholz versus Delmon and Matt, I just liked Matt there.”

COULD BE A HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Game 3 starter Alex Cobb turns 26 today, marking the 13th time a pitcher has made a postseason start on his birthday. The last was Kyle Lohse in 2003, who started Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS for the Minnesota Twins. Cobb shares a birthday with teammate Evan Longoria, who turns 28. Longo’s last birthday game didn’t go so well – he went 0-for-4 in the Rays’ 6-0 loss to the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the 2010 ALDS.

TOUGH TASK AT HAND: The Rays are the 23rd team since 1995 to fall behind 0-2 in the American League Division Series, and are trying to become the fifth team to erase the deficit and win the series. The Red Sox have done it twice – in 2003 against Oakland and 1999 against Cleveland

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