ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As the Tampa Bay Rays return home from a 2-4 road trip at the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees, their three-game series with the San Diego Padres brings a reunion with former Rays player Wil Myers.
Myers won the American League Rookie of the Year with Tampa Bay in 2013 but saw his numbers drop considerably in 2014, hitting .222 after .293 as a rookie. He was traded to San Diego in a three-team deal that brought outfielder Steven Souza to Tampa Bay.
Myers, 25, is just now showing the form that the Rays had hoped for when they acquired him from the Royals, but he said he has no ill will toward his former team.
"When I was in Tampa, I was young and dumb," Myers told the Padres' official site this week. "I did a lot of things that weren't great, as far as just being a big-leaguer. I've really felt like I've grown as a big-leaguer, grown as a teammate. That's one thing I wish that I could've given Tampa."
Tampa Bay has gotten middling results from Souza, 27, who has raised his average to .244 this season with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. While his average is 19 points higher than last season, his on-base percentage has dropped by 20, with his walks cut in half while he continues to struggle with a high strikeout rate.
Both teams come in after going 2-4 on road swings -- the Rays are now home for 10 straight and the Padres are wrapping up their road trip in Florida. San Diego saw Mets pitcher Steven Matz take a no-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday on the way to a 5-1 Mets win, and the Rays bounced back to close a series at the Yankees with a 12-3 win.
Third baseman Evan Longoria continues to wield a hot bat, with three hits and four RBIs to spark a game in which all nine Rays starters had hits and scored.
"We had a nice offensive approach and it was nice to see," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose team had 21 runs in two wins last week and 15 in four losses. "(Longoria) has been outstanding. His at-bats, his approach, everything he does. He's a guy you want when guys are on base. Right now, he's seeing everything really well."
Tampa Bay (47-69) has found surprising consistency since the All-Star break from Drew Smyly, now 4-11 after two wins in his last three starts. He has thrown four straight quality starts, allowing exactly two earned runs in each of his last three.
San Diego (50-67) has a far less proven arm on the mound in rookie right-hander Luis Perdomo, who is 5-6 but carries a 6.80 ERA, having shown inconsistent results in his time as a reliever and starter this season. He hasn't fared well in interleague play this season, but neither has Smyly, who is 1-3 all time against National League teams with a 4.62 ERA.