Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Improvements in minors may win Matt Joyce a job with Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — For OF Matt Joyce, the past several months might be tough to top. Winning the Triple-A championship with the Durham Bulls then getting engaged to girlfriend Randi on a trip to Ireland in November gave him plenty to be thankful for.

Joyce hopes 2010 begins with a bang as well, and earning a spot in the Rays rightfield platoon in spring training would certainly do the trick.

Joyce, a 25-year-old Tampa native, showed flashes of power and athleticism in two stints in Tampa Bay last season, offering glimpses of why the club traded RHP Edwin Jackson to the Tigers to acquire him just more than a year ago. But it was how Joyce diligently improved on some little things, learning the "Rays way" in Durham, that has him and the club anticipating he could be ready for a role.

"I don't think I'm gonna go in and expecting to have it," Joyce said. "I'm going in with the mind-set I have to go win it."

That won't be solidified until spring training, but Joyce laid the groundwork in Durham after getting sent back down in June.

Joyce had hit three homers with the Rays but struck out seven times in 32 at-bats and finished 0-for-15 before getting optioned to the Bulls. He knew he had to be more consistent and admitted that he put pressure on himself not playing every day, especially after an 0-for-4 day.

"It's tough, but it's a big-league spot, and you try to go out there every day and prove you belong there," he said.

Joyce improved in Durham, where he hit .273 with 16 homers, 66 RBIs and a team-high 67 walks. But there were other aspects the Rays wanted Joyce to work on, such as being a more aggressive baserunner and getting good jumps in the outfield. "And I took that to heart," he said.

Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said it showed.

"He just got a lot better in the outfield," Montoyo said. "He was a good outfielder to begin with, but he's an above-average rightfielder right now. … At the plate, he needs to be more consistent, but that almost goes for every young hitter. …

"The sky is the limit with this kid; I really like him."

Montoyo liked how Joyce handled the disappointment of not being a September callup. "A lot of guys when they came down, they all have the excuse, 'Why are they doing this to me?' " he said. "When (Matt) came down, he was ready to work and get better. He never was upset."

Joyce went 14-for-19 stealing bases in Durham, and though he won't be passing Carl Crawford, the left-handed slugger's speed surprised Montoyo.

"I didn't know he was that fast," Montoyo said. "I knew the kid had power, and he could hit for average, but I didn't know he could run. … He's a complete player. All it's going to take for him is to be consistent, and he'll be a very good player for the Rays for a long time."

So is Joyce ready for a role in the big leagues now?

"That's not my call," Montoyo said. "But if they asked me, I'd say yes."

Rays rumblings: Ex-Ray closer Troy Percival was one of several former Angels riding the city of Anaheim's float in the Rose Bowl parade. … C Shawn Riggans, non-tendered by the Rays, said he'd love to return. … Ex-Ray C Toby Hall will have his celebrity golf tournament at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 21 at the Bayou Club in Largo; foursomes and sponsorships are still available (contact Tracey at … Durham RH reliever Winston Abreu was the MiLBY winner for Triple-A reliever of the year.

Joe Smith can be reached at

Improvements in minors may win Matt Joyce a job with Tampa Bay Rays 01/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.