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. Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"


    The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

  2. What are the odds the Rays trade for Brad Hand or Pat Neshek?


    In each of the last three seasons, the Rays have been sellers at the trade deadline. They shipped away David Price in 2014, got rid of David DeJesus and Kevin Jepsen in 2015 and flipped Matt Moore, Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer in 2016.

    Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.
  3. Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

    The Heater

    Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Ronde Barber says comments about McCoy 'sensationalized'


    If anyone thinks Ronde Barber was throwing shade at Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, think again.

    "That anyone would assume I would say the best player on the defense isn’t a bad dude is irresponsible and sensationalizing a quote to serve their own means,'' Ronde Barber said.
  5. USA Today sees Bucs as 10-6 wild card team in 2017


    Another day, another national outlet making NFL predictions, and this one is promising for Tampa Bay fans, as USA Today's Nate Davis has the Bucs going 10-6 and making the …

    Bucs DT Gerald McCoy tries to bring down Giants QB Eli Manning in a 2015 game. Tampa Bay and New York are both picked to finish 10-6 in USA Today's preseason predictions, both making the playoffs as wild cards.