Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce making his case for everyday job

MIAMI

Outfielder Matt Joyce wants to be an everyday player.

"There's no doubt," Joyce said. "I'm ready, whenever they want me in there."

You can make the case that Joyce is as ready as he has ever been as he's arguably the Rays' most improved player over the past couple of years.

Joyce came to Tampa Bay in 2008 from Detroit as a hitter; that's what the Tigers focused on with the smooth, left-handed-swinging slugger. He can still do that, entering Saturday leading the Rays with 10 homers and second with 30 RBIs while batting .292. But Joyce has also bought into the "Rays Way," getting better at his defense and baserunning and becoming more of a complete player.

"He's not just a hitter anymore," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's not just a pretty face. He's done the other stuff that matters."

Joyce, 27, an All-Star last season, has even seasoned his approach against left-handed pitchers. It has been a slow and admittedly frustrating situation for Joyce, who has always believed he could hit lefties but needed the opportunities. Maddon has said they've tried to help Joyce by putting him against lefties he matches up better against (he sat against Andy Pettitte on Tuesday but played Thursday against CC Sabathia, getting a single).

Joyce has also had to earn those chances, and from his four at-bats against lefties in 2009 he has bumped up to 25 in 2010 (.080), 92 (.217) in 2011 and 52 (.269) already this season. He seized the moment with extra starts when fellow outfielders B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings missed time with injuries this season.

One reason Joyce hasn't played every day is because of how the Rays are built, with Maddon liking to move his versatile players around (switch-hitting Ben Zobrist between right and second, Sean Rodriguez all over the infield) to get the most out of his lineup.

But Joyce's improved performance against lefties can eventually put an end to a platoon.

"As of late, I feel like I've had more confidence and comfortability factor because I've been able to be in there and face (lefties)," Joyce said.

Bench coach Dave Martinez praised Joyce for his work ethic and attitude, which has helped the Tampa native evolve. He told Joyce that you can't always bank on hitting and that you can help the team win with a throw, a catch or crafty baserunning.

"And he's done that," Martinez said. "He's been one of the good success stories. If you look around, we've got a bunch of guys that have matured and grown over the years since I've been here. And he's one of the guys that really has matured and grown to be a good everyday ballplayer."

Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce making his case for everyday job 06/09/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 9, 2012 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  2. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  3. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 6:36: Cash said the Rays will "be smart" in deciding whether to use Farquhar, Hunter and Colome tonight, so it could be a closing combo of the Blaze Brothers, Alvarado and Stanek, with Whitley another option. ... Cash said De Leon provides depth for tonight, and mentioned that some of the other relief …

  4. USF baseball heads to Gainesville for regional play

    Sports

    TAMPA — Had USF's players and coaches been less confident in their NCAA Tournament resume, Monday's selection show might have induced fidgeting, perhaps even frustration.

    South Florida coach Mark Kingston looks on during 2017 American Athletic Conference game Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Clearwater during the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls won 7-6.
  5. Rays call up Jose De Leon to add depth to bullpen tonight

    Blogs

    The Rays decided that after playing 15 innings Sunday they could use some depth and length in their bullpen after all and are calling up RHP Jose De Leon from Triple-A.

    The Rays have recalled Jose De Leon from Triple-A Durham.