Phillies notes: Matt Joyce impresses; a new title for former GM Matt Klentak

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The Phillies have a handful of veteran players in spring training who are signed to minor-league contracts and it's not difficult to envision several of them being contributors as soon as opening day.

Two of them got off to a nice start in the spring home opener against Baltimore on Monday.

Reliever Brandon Kintzler, who was second in the National League with 12 saves as a member of the Miami Marlins last season, pitched a scoreless third inning.

Kintzler was the beneficiary of a nice diving catch by right fielder Matt Joyce to start a double play.

At the plate, Joyce's day began with his grounding into a 5-2-3 double play in the first inning, but he made a nice contribution in the bottom of the third when, moments after his defensive gem behind Kintzler, he clubbed a two-run home run to right. Later in the game, Joyce worked a seven-pitch walk.

"Loved the way he looked today," manager Joe Girardi said. "His at-bats were really good and he made an outstanding play in the outfield. I think that's what we expect. He's a guy who understands how to do his job, a guy who understands who he is."

The Phillies signed Joyce, 36, in February to compete for a bench job. He fits the bill as the type of professional hitter teams like to carry in a reserve role. 

"He's a guy that has played that type of role," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said last month. "He's a threat to come off the bench."

Over the last three seasons, Joyce has hit .240 with seven doubles, three homers and nine RBIs in 104 pinch-hit at-bats. 

Joyce has played for eight clubs in a 13-year career. He hit .252 with two homers, 14 RBIs and a .682 OPS in 148 plate appearances for the Marlins last season. In 2019, he hit .295 with seven homers, 23 RBIs and a .858 OPS in 238 plate appearances for Atlanta.

Now, he's trying to hook on with another NL East team.

In addition to Kintzler, the Phillies have two other established relievers, right-hander Hector Rondon and lefty Tony Watson, in camp on minor-league deals. Based on their track records, it is not difficult to imagine all three making the club. Joyce, based on his track record, could be an attractive piece on the bench, especially if he continues to play well this spring.

Getting all four players on the club will require some maneuvering of the 40-man roster, which is full. 

But that's an issue for down the road, if performances warrant making the club.

"Not my job," Girardi said on the subject of fitting worthy players on a tight roster. "My job is to manage the people we have.

"Right now, I have a lot of very good non-roster players in here and it's obviously something we'll probably discuss at length. But there's some really good players in here that are non-roster invitees and I'm pretty thrilled about that."

McCutchen running better

The Phillies and Orioles played to a 4-4 tie. Presumed opening day starter Aaron Nola pitched two innings.

Andrew McCutchen batted leadoff and opened the bottom of the first inning with a single and went first to third on a double to left by Jean Segura.

Girardi liked the way Segura swung the bat. He also liked how McCutchen looked going first to third.

"What stood out is how easily he did it, no limp when he slowed down," Girardi said. "He looked very natural running. I was very pleased."

McCutchen had surgery to repair a torn ACL in June 2019 and ran with a hitch last season. With another year to recover, he's expected to be stronger in 2021.

New title

Former general manager Matt Klentak has a new title. The team's 2021 media guide lists him as a Strategy & Development Officer on the club's executive management team. Klentak had two years remaining on his contract when he was replaced as GM after a fifth straight losing season in October. 

Check out the Phillies' full spring training TV schedule

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