Padres owner Ron Fowler may have thrown outfielder and former first baseman Wil Myers under the bus in praising new first baseman Eric Hosmer‘s ability to be the “franchise face.” Per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Fowler said, “We’re hoping Eric is that guy. Myers has a lot of qualities, but he frankly does not want to be the leader in the clubhouse. That’s just not in his DNA. If there was a player who was more positive about us going after Eric than Myers, I don’t know who it would be.”
Fowler continued, “Eric will protect him in the lineup, first of all. And he’ll take more of a leadership position, which is more natural for him in the clubhouse than it was for Myers.”
My instinct upon reading the quote was to give Fowler the benefit of the doubt, since what owner would throw his own players under the bus unprovoked like that? But as Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports reminded me on Twitter, Fowler threw his players under the bus back in June 2016 when the club was floundering. Fowler called his team a “miserable failure” and “an embarrassment.” He specifically called out James Shields, who at the time had just given up 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings to the Mariners. Fowler said, “To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him.”
In a town hall-style meeting with ticketholders at Petco Park two months later, Fowler said, “I’ll be damned if we’re going to pay high-priced talent to sit on their butts and not perform.” Talking about some of the players the club had recently traded (including Shields), Fowler added, “Most of ’em are gone, thank God.”
With that context, it’s hard to give Fowler the benefit of the doubt here. It’s still possible that Myers told Fowler or someone else in the organization that he had no interest in wanting to be the face of the franchise and a leader in the clubhouse. But if that happens to be the case, it’s also something Myers probably wouldn’t want to be made public.
We will likely get some clarification on the matter at some point in the near future. For now, it’s not a good look for Fowler.