Matt Joyce is running back to Durham
Matt Joyce is running back to Durham

Bad news for Matt Joyce, good news for the Bulls: The team’s leading hitter is coming back to Durham after a stint with the Rays. Joyce got off to a hot start upon being promoted, then cooled off, going 5-21 overall. With Pat Burrell scheduled to return, Joyce would have had to maintain a torrid pace in order to avoid a return to the DBAP.

Moreover, the Rays want Joyce to work on his fielding. Apparently he had some adventures in right field for Tampa—even Joyce acknowledged as much in an interview conducted after his demotion. Fielding skills are notoriously difficult to gauge. The poster child for that is Derek Jeter, who looks in many ways like a terrific shortstop but whose ratings by most metrics are very low. In other words, although Joyce looked perfectly decent to me out in the field at the DBAP, clearly there are complicating factors.

But the best part about this whole fielding thing is the awesome quote it generated from Rays’ manager Joe Maddon: “We want Joyce to be a good defender also. We don’t want guys to come through here and try to pigeon-hole themselves in one aspect of the game. We want our guys to be aware of the liberal arts form of baseball.” The liberal arts form of baseball. Joyce also needs to write a paper on Socrates, study the Crimean War, and take a theater design course. I love Joe Maddon. I want to compare wine notes and discuss the cave paintings at Lascaux with Joe Maddon.

The Bulls have been struggling to score runs lately, so they just got a big boost. Joyce will shuffle off to Buffalo for tonight’s game against the Bisons. I haven’t checked the roster in the last couple of days (it changes so often that it’s dizzying), so I’m not sure if a corresponding move needs to be made; but if so, look for Alex Jamieson to put the sweatshirt back on again. Poor guy. It’s like he has to keep going into hiding.

Another injured Ray, Jason Bartlett, is scheduled to return to action next week. Will Reid Brignac follow Joyce back down to Durham? Who knows? By then, half the roster could get hurt, go on a yoga retreat, or form a traveling theater troupe. We’ll keep you as informed as we can.