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Joyce working to shake bad habits on defense

DETROIT -- Matt Joyce came to Comerica Park early on Tuesday to get in a little extra practice with outfield coach George Hendrick.

"I just told the outfield coach that I wanted to get a couple more reps, just get a little more comfortable," Joyce said. "There's just been some situations the last couple of weeks where I thought I could take better routes. I had a chance at catching a couple of balls. We take a lot of pride in our defense, and it's no different in the outfield."

A fly ball hit Joyce in the back during Friday night's game, which prompted teammates to tape a ball to his back the next day. It was all in good fun, but Joyce believes he's developed some bad habits recently.

"I think generally, balls hit over my head or to the gap, I tend to take a route more direct toward it, which puts you in a bad situation," he said. "Generally, in the outfield, you want to take a deeper route to the ball and keep it to the side; you don't really want to get right under the ball, because then you get tangled up, and that's what's been happening."

Manager Joe Maddon noted that he did not mandate the extra work.

"That's what he wanted to do," Maddon said. "I appreciate him doing it, but all the fielding practice in the world is just going to do so much. It's all about him relaxing and just having his confidence return, because the last couple of years, he's been really good. There's no new information we could possibly give him right now other than to try and put him back into a comfort zone."

Maddon stressed that Joyce plays good defense.

"He's into a little bit of a mental thing with his defense, and he's a real good defender," he said. "He's not OK, he's real good. So again, I don't want him to overthink it or try new things. Just chill out and trust your instincts."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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