Phillies outfielder Matt Joyce impresses at plate, in field
By Matt Rappa
The Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff fared far better as a collective whole in their 4-4 tie Monday afternoon, opposite the Baltimore Orioles at the newly renamed BayCare Ballpark.
Aaron Nola yielded the staff’s only two earned runs — a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to right fielder DJ Stewart. The right-hander allowed two hits in the first and second innings each, but also made positive strides by striking out a batter swinging and inducing a double play with his changeup.
Ramon Rosso and minor-league invitees Brandon Kintzler, Michael Ynoa, Jakob Hernandez, and David Paulino then combined to throw six innings, allowing only two hits and one walk while striking out three. Rosso did let two runs to score in the fifth, however they were unearned following a fielding error by shortstop Nick Maton.
Phillies non-roster invitee outfielder Matt Joyce was impressive in Monday’s tie.
Perhaps the Phillies player that stood out the most in the team’s second of 28 Grapefruit League exhibition games this spring was non-roster invitee outfielder Matt Joyce.
The 13-year veteran made a spectacular diving catch in right field on a Stewart line drive in the third inning — and then followed with a heads-up throw to first for the double play.
The next half-inning, Joyce launched a two-run home run to right field to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead.
Joyce — who grounded into a double play and walked in his other two plate appearances — faces a tough task to make the 26-man Phillies Opening Day roster, considering there will not be a designated hitter. Also, at least Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Brad Miller, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery slot ahead of him as fellow outfielders on the depth chart.
The Phillies inked Joyce last month to a minor-league deal, marking a reunion between him and Dave Dombrowski. About 15 1/2 years ago, the now-Phillies president of baseball operations selected Joyce in the 12th round of the 2005 draft while with the Detroit Tigers.
Throughout his career, Joyce has slashed .244/.343/.428 with 205 doubles, 15 triples, 147 home runs, 496 RBI, 547 walks, and 919 strikeouts across 1,357 games and nearly 4,300 plate appearances. Joyce played in 46 games for the Miami Marlins this past season, hitting .252/.351/.331 with 26 singles, four doubles, two home runs, 14 RBI, 20 walks, and 41 strikeouts through 148 plate appearances.
“[Matt is] a left-handed hitter that has been in the big leagues for an extended period,” Dombrowski told reporters after the signing. “He can play left and right field. He is a threat to come off the bench.”
Joyce will need several solid performances over the coming weeks — like the one he had on Monday — if he wants to make the Opening Day roster.