Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 2/15/13
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. Everything about Wil Myers spring will be a flash of light, a fleeting glimpse. Thats the way with hype, after all. Its a crack of thunder, an arousing welcome, before the sound gives way to silence and, eventually, normalcy. The past two days, though, have been no time for perspective. Myers arrival at Charlotte Sports Park for spring training has given the Tampa Bay Rays a chance to dream about his tantalizing ceiling and, in turn, what it could mean for their future. This has been a sneak preview, a low-stakes handshake under palm trees, and both sides will learn more about the other in the coming weeks. But consider the present, because its filled with interest and intrigue. The Rays spring handling of their possible star, the jewel of a six-player trade with the Kansas City Royals in December, is appropriate and wise. During the next six weeks, they will watch, wait, analyze and discover, with no intent to change what has made him a delicious talent. They will repeat the cycle, perhaps more than once, taking whats learned and tucking it away for future reference when he does arrive at Tropicana Field for good. Why rush? Why push the possibilities? As a player, I feel Im major-league ready, but thats not up to me to decide, Myers said. Thats up to the front office. Most likely, his delay will continue past Opening Day. The wait has become a major part of his story. Around Kansas City, hell be remembered as a torturous "what if?", the celebrated prospect from High Point, N.C., who received a standing ovation during the Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium last July, only to be shipped south in a move that brought right-hander James Shields to the Midwest in a gamble to win now. Kansas Citys loss is Tampa Bays opening. Myers comfort in his new home will come in time, but not without calculated planning first from a franchise that has groomed other power hitters like third baseman Evan Longoria. The prospects numbers are seductive He hit .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI in time split between Class AA and Class AAA last season but sound preparation will serve everyone involved best. Consequently, this is manager Joe Maddons spring vision for Myers: That he becomes absorbed into Tampa Bays culture, one that has produced three playoff berths since 2008; that he understands theres no pressure or expectations placed on him in these weeks; and that he impacts the game in the natural way he knows. So the coming month is a test drive of sorts, a light tap of the gas pedal in what the Rays hope is a long and prosperous relationship with last seasons consensus minor-league player of the year. They plan to nurture the 22-year-old now, push later and await the results of their strategy in seasons ahead. I want to observe, and I dont want to tell him what to do, Maddon said. I want him to do what he does naturally well, and well work it from there. Theres no preconceived genius thought from our end that were going to impact this guy in any way. Let him go out and impact the game the way he can, and well observe. Whenever you get a new guy or a young guy like that, from my perspective, you dont try to influence anything that he does. I want to see what he does, how he does it. Come in here, walk in the door, dont feel any weight on your shoulders, and just go play the game. Thats what I want him to do. When Maddon watches, there will be plenty to like. Hell enjoy Myers bat speed and wrist and hand mobility. Hell enjoy the way Myers approaches the game in a simple and cerebral way, a jackpot combination that made him the Royals' No. 1 prospect. Myers has a versatile baseball mind, as shown by his ability to move to the outfield one year after being drafted as a catcher in 2009. He has the tools and attitude to be great. Now its the Rays duty to sharpen his complete profile. Weve said this since the trade: Were extremely excited to add him to this organization, Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. We feel like hes got a tremendous upside, and were excited to get a chance to know him. Its one thing to read scouting reports and watch video and talk to guys that have seen him. Its another to have him in our camp, watch him prepare, watch the way he does things and really hone in on different aspects of his game. We place a great deal of emphasis on the total game. Hearing Myers speak this week, its obvious he has kept focus on his total game. He has left his talk to the batters box, only offering short peeks behind his curtain. Those moments suggest he's prepared for the spotlight that awaits him. Because the Rays gave up an Ironman starter to gain him Shields pitched a team-high 227.2 innings last season Myers will be tracked in a different light. Questions that will follow him are perhaps unfair but inevitable; there will always be some who wonder if his potential was worth sacrificing known value. Among the responses On performing well in front of potential teammates: This is my first time working out in front of these guys. Right now, I just want to go out and prove what I can do. On front-office members watching him: I didnt really notice it too much. I didnt want to take it as added pressure or anything. I just wanted to go out and get my work in. On hitting for the first time Thursday: I had some nerves when I first stepped in. I just wanted to take a couple of good swings to relax a little bit. But I think it went well. Those answers mark only a beginning, the first looks at a union that could become great. Myers opening days with the Rays, his crack of thunder, did indeed go well. Now let his journey to normalcy begin. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
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