ST. PETERSBURG — Having played 14 seasons in the majors and with no offers for a 15th, former Rays All-Star outfielder Matt Joyce made official on Monday what had became increasingly obvious to him the last few months, formally announcing his retirement.
The Tampa native spent more time with the Rays — parts of six seasons — than any of his seven other teams, finishing with 149 home runs, a, .242 average, 898 hits and 503 RBIs while going to the postseason five times and earning All-Star honors in 2011. He spent last season with the Phillies in a limited role, hitting .091 (5-for-55) in 43 games while missing extended time with injuries.
Joyce, who turns 38 on Wednesday, said that following the lockout his only offer to play this season was in independent ball (which he initially accepted before changing his mind). After a few months of waiting to see if he would get another chance in 2023, he decided to call it a career.
“I definitely feel good, and I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish,” Joyce said. ”I think overcoming the biggest trials and failures is really what I’m most proud of. That ultimately shows a lot about a person, a lot about an athlete. The fact that they’re just willing to kind of grind and persevere and continue to fail, but you continue to get back up again. So, yeah, I’m definitely proud of my career.
“Obviously, I think if you ask anybody, they’ll always say they wish they could have done more or played a little bit longer. But at the end of the day, we’re all human and your body can only play for so long.”
Joyce was a 12th-round pick by the Tigers in 2005 out of Florida Southern, following a stellar career at Armwood High. He debuted in the majors in 2008 and was traded after that season to his hometown Rays.
Joyce, known for his sweet swing, spent six seasons with Tampa Bay and was part of three playoff teams, hitting as many as 19 homers in 2011, the year he was chosen for the All-Star team.
“That probably means the most to me, looking back,” Joyce said. “Just being from here, being raised here, playing here, making the playoffs three out of the five (full) years that I was up with the team. A lot of really cool memories, a lot of really cool highlights. That was special, for sure.”
The Rays traded Joyce to the Angels after the 2014 season, and he bounced around after that, playing for the Pirates, A’s (hitting a career-high 25 homers in 2017), Braves, Marlins and Phillies.
He and his wife, Brittany, are rooted in South Tampa and in the fitness business, owning and operating five F45 Training facilities around Tampa Bay, with a sixth being built at Armature Works.
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“It was just a really good transition, an easy transition as an athlete,” Joyce said. “F45 was, after I took the first class, it was really a no-brainer, because I thought it was a better program than anything else that was out there.
“And you’ve got to do something, right? I’ve still got bills to pay, and it was a really good bridge into business. .... More so than anything, being from this area, wanting to stay in this area, wanting to make an impact on this area, that was a really good fit.”
Joyce said he already misses baseball.
“I miss being around athletes and working with athletes. So I definitely see me doing something in some capacity. I don’t know exactly what that’s going to turn into, though.”
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