Pirates notebook: Matt Joyce happy to get opportunity in outfield
February 21, 2016 12:00 AM
New Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce jokes around with teammates at morning workouts at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — Before Matt Joyce signed with the Pirates, when he was still looking for a job, he spoke with manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle apprised him of the outfield situation: Three starters locked in, but playing time to be had.
“The opportunity here would start off as a fourth outfielder,” Hurdle said he told Joyce. “Shared with him our playing-time philosophy. Guys are going to play.”
Joyce, who eventually signed a minor league contract, was in Pirates camp Saturday. Joyce, 31, was a solid player for six of his first seven major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays. In 2015, with the Los Angeles Angels, he struggled, hitting .174 with a .564 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Matt Joyce addresses the media
Outfielder Matt Joyce signed a minor league contract with the Pirates that includes an invite to major league camp.
Pirates Spring Training in Bradenton
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talks about newly aquired outfielder Matt Joyce.
Joyce, a left-handed batter, hit .254 with a .349 on-base percentage in 2014 and made the All-Star team with the Rays in 2011, when he hit .277 with 19 home runs.
“As a player, you know that you’re capable of being an All-Star player,” Joyce said. “When you don’t go out there and do it, that’s the most frustrating thing in the world to constantly fail at something that you work so hard at.”
Joyce played for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League this past offseason, hitting .301 with a .436 on-base percentage and seven home runs in 181 plate appearances.
“You can fall into bad habits as a hitter and not necessarily know you’re doing it,” he said. “I think that was a case of what happened last year until I started talking to people and really looking at what I was doing.”
Because Joyce reached major league free agency but signed a minor league contract, the Pirates must add him to the opening-day active roster or release him five days before opening day to avoid paying him a $100,000 retention bonus. If they pay him the bonus and send him to the minors, he can opt out June 1.
Class AAA Indianapolis pitching coach Stan Kyles interviewed with the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this offseason for their vacant bullpen coach’s job, Hurdle said. Kyles previously served as the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen coach.
Hurdle said teams have asked about pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell, and the Pirates already lost Jim Benedict to the Miami Marlins.
“We had so many numerous hits, not just on the pitching side but in our organization over the winter,” Hurdle said.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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