BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates may have found a fourth outfielder, and Matt Joyce may have found the place to prove that last year was just a fluke.Pittsburgh officially agreed to a Minor League contract with Joyce on Saturday. Joyce reported to the club's Pirate City complex, Rays equipment bag
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates may have found a fourth outfielder, and Matt Joyce may have found the place to prove that last year was just a fluke.
Pittsburgh officially agreed to a Minor League contract with Joyce on Saturday. Joyce reported to the club's Pirate City complex, Rays equipment bag in tow, and found his new locker on the big league side of the clubhouse.
As he looked for a job this offseason, coming off an uncharacteristically poor season with the Angels, Joyce spoke with manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle told him Pittsburgh's three outfielders aren't going anywhere, but the club will find playing time for its reserves.
"It's the best fit for me, and you always want to go to a team that wants you," Joyce said. "Clint said they see me as kind of like the fourth outfielder, but obviously I've got to come in and win a job and show them that I am ready."
The Pirates' starting outfield is obviously set with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Beyond that trio, their outfield options are utility men and unproven non-roster invitees. Joyce, 31, could offer a proven left-handed bat with experience in both corner-outfield spots if he rebounds from a rough 2015 season.
Over nearly 300 plate appearances with the Angels last year, Joyce batted .174/.272/.291 with five home runs and 21 RBIs. Joyce said his struggles were the result of several issues -- poor mechanics, defensive shifts, bad habits taking root -- but he feels like he's in a better place now.
This offseason, Joyce played 27 games and hit .305/.436/.516 in the Dominican Winter League. He identified his weaknesses and made the necessary adjustments, believing he can get back to the All-Star level he reached with the Rays.
"I feel like I'm in a really good spot, and I'm excited about this opportunity," he said. "You have to look at failure as lessons. You have to learn from them -- and learn from them quick -- in this game. For me, just use it as fuel to the fire and become more determined."
From 2010-14, Joyce posted a .251/.344/.434 line while averaging 15 homers and 55 RBIs. The eight-year veteran owns a career OPS of .795 against right-handed pitchers and .554 against southpaws, making him a potential platoon option -- albeit one without a clear partner -- or a lefty bat off the bench.
To make himself more versatile, Joyce is going to resume working at first base, as he did before the 2012 season in Tampa Bay. He ran into several former Rays teammates at Pirate City, including Sean Rodriguez, John Jaso and infielder (and fellow Tampa resident) Cole Figueroa.
"It's definitely nice to know some guys in the clubhouse and feel comfortable as soon as you walk in," Joyce said.
General manager Neal Huntington said Friday that the Bucs don't necessarily have to carry a designated fourth outfielder. Utility man Rodriguez could fill in when necessary, and Jaso, Michael Morse, Jason Rogers and Jake Goebbert all have experience in the outfield.
But if Joyce shows he can hit like he did with the Rays, the Pirates should have a spot for him.
"I've always seen him as a baseball player and a guy that was more than a contributor," Hurdle said. "Just happy we got him."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.