Joyce sees promise in 2017 A's upon arrival

Out of options, right-hander Alcantara vies for spot on roster

Joyce sees promise in 2017 A's upon arrival

MESA, Ariz. -- Veteran Matt Joyce, signed by the A's to a two-year deal to play in a platoon in right field, descended upon A's camp Thursday morning following an adventurous travel day to the desert.

Joyce had quite the entourage in tow from 35-degree temperatures in Connecticut: his wife, Brittany, along with their 1-month-old daughter, Kensington, and three dogs: Eli, Sky and Ru.

"It's stressful and exhausting," Joyce said, "but we made it, and now we go to work."

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Joyce, who will likely be sharing right-field duties with Mark Canha, has a career .242 average and .341 on-base percentage to go with 106 home runs across nine big league seasons. Last year, he especially excelled in a pinch for the Pirates, leading the Majors in pinch-hit RBIs (15).

"He knows that if a lefty starts and he's not in the lineup," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "he could still have the most impactful at-bat in the game coming off the bench in a situation where you have some guys on base."

Joyce, 32, said the team's potential "is through the roof," adding, "When you think about the great teams over the years, they really are built on pitching. Good pitching and consistent, good defense can keep you in a lot of ballgames if you can find a way to get the runners on and come up with a big hit. That leads to a lot of wins. From what I hear and what I see, our pitching is competing with the best, so that's exciting. I'm looking forward to the challenge of being part of a turnaround."

Alcantara an option to start and relieve

Being out of Minor League options is often advantageous in Spring Training. Organizational faces are likely to take a longer look at players who fall under this category since they run the risk of losing them to another team should they not be placed on the 25-man roster out of camp.

Among A's players out of options this spring is right-hander Raul Alcantara, ranked as the club's No. 28 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. Alcantara, long hyped as part of the December 2011 trade that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox, struggled in his big league debut last year, posting a 7.25 ERA in five September starts after beginning the season at Double-A.

However, the A's still see high potential in the 24-year-old Alcantara, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2014, and consider him a candidate for the fifth rotation spot and a long-relief role.

"He just seems to be getting better and better as he comes off his injury," Melvin said. "It's a lot to say here throwing bullpens, but we were impressed with what he did last year, and he just seems to be getting more comfortable at big league camp. He threw a really good bullpen today, so that's good to see."

Alcantara faces stiff competition in the race for the rotation -- Andrew Triggs, Jesse Hahn and Frankie Montas are also being considered -- and won't simply be handed a bullpen spot, either. Essentially six spots are already taken, with lefty Daniel Coulombe likely favored for the seventh. But Alcantara can't be sent to the Minors without hitting the waiver wire.

"That dynamic is always there when you're making decisions on a guy like him," Melvin said. "A guy like that is a talented guy, and we have something invested in him, too, coming off some injuries and a guy we think highly of, so you can't help but ignore that situation."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.