Angels left fielder Matt Joyce did not get lost on his way to the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Tuesday the way Kevin Jepsen, the former Angels reliever who was traded to the Rays for Joyce last winter, did in Anaheim last week.
But it was definitely strange for Joyce to return to the stadium he called home for six years and to play against the team for whom he hit .250 with 76 home runs and 280 runs batted in from 2009-2014. The Angels open a three-game series against the Rays on Tuesday night.
"It's nostalgic," said Joyce, who stopped by the Rays clubhouse before going to the visiting side. "You definitely think about a lot of the good memories, and I had quite a few here, some really good ones to hold onto.
"It's mixed emotions. It's weird to be on this side. It's exciting to see all the guys, but it's weird to play against a team you were on for six years. At the end of the day, when the switch is flipped, you have to forget everything and concentrate on the task at hand, focus on your job."
Joyce, 30, has not had the kind of success in Anaheim that he had in Tampa Bay. He enters Tuesday night’s game with a .188 average, .260 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage, far below his career slash line of .250/.342/.441 entering the season.
Joyce opened the season in the cleanup spot but has only four homers and 17 runs batted in and was dropped to the sixth spot three weeks into the season. A .283 hitter against right-handers entering the season, he is batting .196 against them this season.
Joyce, a platoon player for much of his Tampa Bay career, hoped to have more of a full-time role with the Angels, especially with left fielder Josh Hamilton traded to Texas, but he has only one hit in 12 at-bats against left-handers for an .083 mark.
Could a return to the domed stadium he performed so well in for six years trigger a hot streak for Joyce?
"Maybe," he said. "I definitely feel comfortable here. I know the ballpark really well. Hopefully that will play a role in the success factor."