Joyce cleared to begin rehab assignment

August 19th, 2018

OAKLAND -- A's outfielder Matt Joyce, who has missed more than 50 games during the span of two separate DL stints, has finally been cleared for a Minor League rehab assignment.

A lumbar strain has kept Joyce out of game action since July 4, but on Tuesday he'll return to the field with Triple-A Nashville. Just over two weeks remain on the Minors' regular-season schedule, which presented some urgency to the matter.

"He's going to get several games under his belt, based on the fact he's been out as long as he has, but we're running up on September pretty soon, so there's only so much time for him to play with one of the affiliates and get ready," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I think we'll have enough time to get him to feel comfortable to ... probably add him in September."

Joyce would join a crowded A's outfield when rosters expand in September; while he's been out, Nick Martini and have joined the fold and offered production on both sides of the ball -- making it unlikely that Joyce would land on a potential postseason roster.

"They've been great," Melvin said. "It seems like everyone we get from development ends up being impactful for us, and we still have down there. We talk about the contributions of 25, it goes much deeper for us."

Fowler, demoted at the beginning of the month, has been hitting nonstop in Nashville, going 28-for-61 (.459) in 14 games.

"He's been killing it," Melvin said. "It seems like he gets three hits every day. That's what we wanted him to do, is go down there and get comfortable. This guy is going to be our center fielder of the future I believe, and he just wasn't getting the opportunity to play every day here. He's going to be a significant player for us."

Joyce was batting .203 with seven homers and 13 RBIs in 63 games when he hit the DL for a second time.