Joyce hoping to salvage season
Outfielder makes adjustments, looks to contribute after collision with Aybar
OAKLAND -- When Matt Joyce collided with Angels shortstop Erick Aybar on July 26, he was riding an 0-for-23 slump that sunk his batting average to .178. He suffered a concussion and hurt his back, and two days later, the Angels acquired David Murphy and David DeJesus, two left-handed-hitting outfielders brought in for the role Joyce was supposed to handle.
He figured he'd be gone.
"Yeah, sure," Joyce said Tuesday, when roster expansion allowed the Angels to activate him off the disabled list. "With what happened, and them acquiring some very talented outfielders, there was definitely some question about what was going to happen."
The Angels opted to keep Joyce -- at one point even outrighting veteran reliever Vinnie Pestano off the 40-man roster when they needed space -- because they believed a turnaround was almost inevitable.
Joyce's on-base percentage went from .341 from 2011-14, as pretty much an everyday player with the Rays, to an unseemly .274 this year. The 31-year-old rehabbed for about three weeks in August, then finally started to show some encouraging signs at Triple-A Salt Lake, batting .333/.419/.528 with two homers, five walks and nine strikeouts in 43 plate appearances.
"You can't go back and change the past," said Joyce, initially acquired in the middle of December for seventh-inning reliever Kevin Jepsen. "You learn from your mistakes, you learn from your failures. I just got into a couple of really bad muscle-memory things at the plate, and obviously it showed. This game is tough. It's a game of adjustments. I feel like I've worked my butt off to make those adjustments. I feel good."
How frequently Joyce can display that remains to be seen. The red-hot C.J. Cron has become the everyday designated hitter, prompting Murphy to start in left field against right-handers. So Joyce will probably only be used as a pinch-hitter, at best, over this last month.
Then he'll enter free agency, immediately following the worst season of his career.
"You can't worry about it," Joyce said. "That's something I'll address when the season is over. Right now, I want to focus on being here and trying to accomplish the goal we set out for ourselves in the beginning."
• The Angels called up Efren Navarro from Triple-A Salt Lake prior to Wednesday's game, giving them 35 players on the active roster. Navarro can be a late-game defensive replacement on days when Cron starts at first base.
• Asked about the upcoming nine-game homestand, which features games against the Rangers, Dodgers and Astros, three teams that entered Wednesday a combined 37 games above .500, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, simply: "Every game, you can let it get magnified if you want it to be, but we're better going out and doing the things we need to do."