Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers took the Fenway Park faithful's best shot Saturday, and kept a smile on his face the whole way through. During pre-game introductions and even after Myers made a routine catch on Shane Victorino's routine fly ball in the fifth inning, the 38,705 on hand taunted Myers with mock standing ovations. It was their acknowledgment of Myers' Game 1 mishap that opened the floodgates for the Boston Red Sox, but Myers wore it like a pro. Or in this case, like his manager, Joe Maddon.
"I visited with him last night and this morning," Maddon said. "I assured him that I threw an interception once when I was in high school. ... Well, it was more than one, but one that was critical."
Maddon also told Myers to keep a smile on his face regardless of what was thrown at him on Saturday. And that's exactly how he approached his day.
For those who missed the play in question, Myers was drifting back on David Ortiz's fly ball to deep right field when he thought he spotted center fielder Desmond Jennings moving over to make the play. Myers ended up peeling off, and then looked on in horror as the ball touched down and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. That put runners on second and third, opening the doors for Boston to score the first five of its 12 unanswered runs.
It's the type of blunder that might eat away at any professional athlete, especially a 22-year-old rookie like Myers. It's also the type of mistake that a player could completely brush off or make numerous excuses for. Neither describes Myers. Not only did he take full responsibility for his mistake, not only has he taken the criticism and ribbing in stride, but he also went back on the offensive, giving those mocking fans something they probably weren't expecting.
Noted: #Rays Wil Myers got mock cheer from Fenway fans during intros; still went over & signed some autographs before heading back to dugout
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 5, 2013
And no one is prouder than Maddon.
"Not good," Maddon said. "Great. He couldn't have handled it any better by his accountability postgame. I didn't hear it or see it, but I was told how accountable he was in the moment, and I think that is a true indicator of why he's going to be as good of a player as we think he is."
Though Myers went 0 for 5 in Tampa Bay's 7-4 loss Saturday, which pushes them to the brink of elimination, it's clear the Rays have a special player on their hands. Not just from a talent and potential standpoint, which is immense, but as a leader as well. He comes across like a young player who can and will handle the big stage just fine.