07/22/08 8:20 PM ET
Joyce's power perked up by numbers
Monster pop no isolated incident as he eyes everyday spot
By Mark Dent / MLB.com
When he slapped an outside changeup to the opposite field Monday night, Joyce never thought it would go out. Even when it got near the fence, he thought it would be a double off the wall.
It did go out, though, a three-run home run.
"It was good for me," Joyce said. "I'll take it."
Truth is, Joyce shouldn't be too surprised by any home run he hits anymore. He's slugged five of them in the last 10 games, after not hitting any in his first eight back after his call up from Triple-A on June 29.
Despite the recent display of power, Monday's home run was somewhat unlikely. Joyce, a lefty, got the changeup from Luke Hochevar on the outside corner of the plate. Joyce had enough strength to knock it opposite field, out of the park.
"I just stayed with it and timed it pretty well," he said. "I got the barrel of the bat on the sweet spot."
As much as anyone wants to hit homers, Joyce knows his best opportunity to get playing time in the outfield is by maintaining a high batting average. In May, in his first callup, Joyce showed power -- five home runs -- but he only hit .208. In 53 at-bats, he only had six hits that weren't homers.
That low average got him sent down to Triple-A, where he maintained a .270 average through 56 games. When outfielder Magglio Ordonez went on the disabled list, Joyce was called back up.
His average stayed low during his first few games back. Then he started this recent power surge. Now Joyce is hitting for power -- along with the five homers, he's notched five doubles, and a triple -- and average -- a total of 16 hits -- in his last 35 at-bats.
This is the Joyce manager Jim Leyland wants to see on a regular basis.
"He's got a beautiful swing," Leyland said. "He has power to all fields, which we've seen. Left-center out here is big, center at Comerica, that's real big. His power is legitimate."
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.