The Tampa Bay Rays knew Wil Myers had the talent to play regularly at the major league level, but they simply were waiting for the perfect time to make him a part of the everyday lineup.
One of baseball's top prospects, Myers will make his big league debut as the struggling Rays face the first-place Boston Red Sox in a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay (36-33) dropped six of the final eight on its 10-game homestand, including two losses to Boston and three of four to Kansas City after Sunday's 5-3 defeat.
With the offense averaging 2.4 runs over the last five, the Rays decided it was time for Myers, rated by some as baseball's top prospect, to join the club.
The outfielder hit .354 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs over his last 23 games in Triple-A, though manager Joe Maddon isn't expecting Myers to live up to the lofty expectations immediately upon his arrival.
"We'll probably hit him lower in the batting order to begin, just to take a little pressure off of him,' Maddon said. "We'll try not to place the expectations too high, although I know it's going to come from outside, not from within."
Maddon just wants Myers, acquired in the December trade that sent James Shields to Kansas City, to focus on the basics.
"I want him to play. I want him to be a Ray," Maddon said. "I want him to run hard to first base. I want him to try to do the right things on the field, continue to work on his defense, try to improve his baserunning."
The Rays are among the major league leaders with runners in scoring position at .294, though they've hit just .141 in those moments while losing seven of nine to the Red Sox this season.
Boston (42-29) will be looking to get back on track as well after dropping three of four at Baltimore over the weekend, including Sunday's 6-3 defeat as Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino each sat out to get some extra rest.
The Red Sox lead the AL East, though the fourth-place Rays are just five games back.
"This is going to be a very highly competitive division throughout the course of the summer," Red Sox manager John Farrell told the team's official website.
Boston, which swept Tampa from April 13-15 at Fenway, will turn to Felix Doubront in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
Doubront (4-3, 4.91 ERA) had a rough outing Thursday, giving up four runs while throwing 103 pitches in 4 2-3 innings of Boston's 5-4, 13-inning loss to Baltimore.
The left-hander struck out seven while allowing two runs in five innings of the Red Sox's 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on May 16, and is 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA in five career starts versus the Rays.
He'll be opposed by Chris Archer, who looks for a more efficient outing versus Boston this time around.
Archer (1-2, 4.80) was recalled from the minors June 1 and has made three starts. He allowed two runs, striking out seven and walking four, while tossing 103 pitches in just four innings of Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.
The right-hander faced Boston once last season as well, giving up three runs in five innings of a 13-3 win Sept. 19.
Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 5.58) will take the mound for the Red Sox in Game 2. He returned from another stint in the minors to oppose Archer on Wednesday, allowing one run - a solo homer to Evan Longoria, who had gone 0 for 9 previously in their matchups - in six innings and picking up the victory.
It marked the right-hander's first start versus Tampa Bay after going 2-1 with three saves and a 2.39 ERA in 19 relief appearances.
Opposing Aceves is Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 8.03), who came over with Myers in the Shields deal. The right-hander will be making his third start after giving up two runs in 3 1-3 innings of relief in Tampa's 10-1 loss to Kansas City on Thursday.
Odorizzi is 0-1 with a 7.16 ERA in four career starts.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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