by Kody Acevedo
MESA, Ariz. — The regular season hasn’t started yet, but Oakland’s new outfielders Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce have already made a big impact in the Athletics’ clubhouse.
The veteran outfielders, who have a combined 20 years of experience in the big leagues, have set the example throughout Spring Training for a young A’s team.
“They’re guys that have fit in very well here, quickly,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “They’ve been impactful.”
The A’s signed the free agent outfielders during the offseason. Joyce returns the AL West after one season with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Davis is coming off a World Series appearance with the Cleveland Indians.
Davis, who played with the A’s from 2009-2010, makes his return to the Bay Area. He said he hopes his preparation for the regular season is something that will standout in the clubhouse.
“The biggest thing (for me) is just (set) the example,” Davis said. “Guys have to see it. I think it’s important for guys to see it.”
For Davis, the 2016 season ended in disappointment. The Indians tied the Cubs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 7 of the World Series when Davis hit a two-run home run off of Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman. But the Cubs went on to win.
Davis said it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment coming out of the offseason with A’s.
“(It’s) like any other Spring Training. You know just trying to get ready,” Davis said. “I think the only difference is I didn’t have as much time to workout in the offseason.”
Davis and Joyce are playing for their third teams in three seasons. Davis spent 2015 with the Detroit Tigers before making the move to Cleveland last season.
Joyce makes his return to the West Coast after a dismal 2015 season with the Los Angeles Angels. He acknowledged that 2015 was the worst season statistically of his career.
“It was a tough season to go through,” Joyce said. “I think you learn the most from your failures that you go through.”
Joyce hit a career-low .174 in 2015 with 43 hits in 247 at-bats. He homered only five times and knocked in 21 RBIs for the Halos.
Last season though, he improved to .242/.403/.463 and homered 13 times while driving in 42 runs. Joyce was grateful to Pittsburgh for allowing him to make the adjustments and improving his game last season.
He now enjoys mentoring the younger guys on his current A’s team.
“I look forward to those times of trying to give them something to help them out and get a little bit better themselves,” Joyce said. “That’s something that I really try to take a lot of pride in, helping the people around me.”
Melvin said their presence is a felt throughout the team’s Spring Training camp.
“(Rajai) brings us the speed factor and the range in center field. Matt brings us a professional at bat,” he said.
Joyce’s discipline at the plate last season is something Melvin hoped to capture again this season.
“(Joyce is) an on-base guy that we’ve really been missing here the past couple of years,” Melvin said. “When you add a couple of guys like him to the lineup, I think everybody kind of gets better because of it.”
While Spring Training is all about teaching and preparing for the regular season, Melvin enjoys simply watching Davis and Joyce go about their business on a daily basis.
“It’s one thing for us as coaches to tell players this is what our expectations are – this is how we want you to go about it,” he said. “To be able to watch guys like them go about their business goes a long way too and helps us out as coaches.”