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October 4, 2011

Matt Joyce


THE MODERATOR: Okay. Questions for Matt Joyce.

Q. Matt, going back a few years, what was your initial reaction to being traded to this team? And what's it been like for a local guy like yourself playing in front of a hometown crowd?
MATT JOYCE: I think at first it was mixed feelings. Any time you get traded, you kind of have that feeling of what did I do wrong or why are they trading me, why don't they want me. But on the other side of that, I was coming home to Tampa, so I was excited.
And at the time I was actually in Mexico and I got a call or text from my dad and my agent saying, You're coming home. So I was excited, thinking I am coming home from Mexico to go to Tampa. I'm like, Finally I get to come home. But I ended up calling him and saying you got traded to Tampa.
And I was just as excited. You get to play in front of your home family and your friends, and it's worked out perfectly for me.

Q. Matt, obviously you guys have been in must-win or playoff games the last month or so. Is there the same relaxed mood in the clubhouse right now, or maybe a guy like Johnny spoken to the group?
MATT JOYCE: Nobody has spoken up, but I think we still have that same mindset and the same demeanor that we've had in the last month, month and a half. And the last month has really been playoff baseball for us to where we've had to win, otherwise our season's over.
So I don't think it's anything different. I don't think the circumstances have really changed for us. So we definitely have the same mindset, and I think we'll be fine.
Obviously Texas has a really good team and it's going to be tough to come back down 2-1, but I definitely think this team, if anybody, can do it.

Q. Hey, Matt, how has your hitting approach changed between yesterday, hitting fourth, and today hitting ninth in the order?
MATT JOYCE: I think normally that would be a tough thing to really adjust to. But since we've been doing it all year long, you kind of get used to it. Joe's pretty much thrown 100-something different lineups out there, and I think we've really come to expect the change. And I think we've grown accustomed and comfortable with that change.

Q. Matt, how much do you know about Harrison, in that you don't face a guy like that very much? Does the advantage go to the pitcher or the hitter in that case?
MATT JOYCE: Yeah, I haven't faced him at all. Maybe once in the playoffs last year. I am not sure if he was with them. Burt I really don't know a lot about him. I'm going to go look at a lot of video and see what I can pick up on him.
And the advantage usually probably goes to the pitcher, because as a hitter you don't know what his stuff is doing. Whether it's taking off or running or how it comes out of his hand. So you have to figure him out quick, because we don't really have a lot of time.

Q. Matt, you hit the big home run to beat the Yankees in the second-to-last game. That was only a week ago. Maybe it's too early to ask you to reflect on that, but in the light of what's happened since, does it seem like a long time ago now?
MATT JOYCE: Yeah, it does. I think a lot transpired in a week, and it's been really hectic and crazy. So that seems like a century ago. But I think in that moment the season is kind of on the line. You're down to your last two games and those are must-win games, too.
So the same mindset is taken here today, and we really have to come up with the big hits in order to win.

Q. Yeah, to do what you guys have done, you've had to be obviously resilient and mentally tough, and I am just curious about what you think is the source or who is the source of that.
MATT JOYCE: It's tough to point out one guy. I think it's really a culmination of all of the guys having the same train of thought to where we never really give up or we never say we're out of it until the numbers point that we are, until they tell us that we are totally out of it.
So I think we've done a great job of communicating and coming together as a team and letting it be known that this is what we're going for, this is what we're shooting for.
I think it was in August we were like nine back, and we were like if we just gain a game each week, we're going to be in a good situation and it's going to come down to the wire. And, sure enough, it did.
But I think that's a combination of everybody believing in what your goal is and really working hard for it.

Q. Matt, you played all of these games under all this pressure, like you said, since August. Is it fun? Is it exhausting? Is it exhilarating? Is there a way you can describe what it is like being on that emotional roller coaster every day?
MATT JOYCE: D, all of the above. It's fun and exhausting, stressful. You know, one of the most exciting times in your baseball career. You know, there's really nothing that doesn't apply to it. It's insane.
I mean, postseason playoff race is really what baseball is all about. And when you get down to those last couple games and where the games really matter and you have the fans come out and you feel that electricity in the air, it's crazy. It becomes an absolute -- I mean, it's just nuts. It's a lot of fun to be a part of, it really is.

Q. For you personally in the year that you have been having, obviously the games played would have to play a factor, what are some of the biggest differences you had and the success had compared to some of the previous years?
MATT JOYCE: Just trying to be more consistent. I think each year that you grow, you come up to the Big Leagues and you get more at-bats, you get a little bit better at being more consistent.
And I feel like this year I've had a better chance of going out there more often and playing a lot more. And that's been able to help me be a little more consistent.

Q. Last one I will ask you today. Evan Longoria talks about being top stepping, everybody sitting up on the rail, everybody is excited. Most ballclubs at this point come together as a team, there is an esprit that Joe will talk about. How much do you lean on each other and how much of this is a connection that all you guys have been through?
MATT JOYCE: Yeah, I mean, you play 162 games with these guys and even more going through Spring Training. And even offseason workouts. So, I mean, you're around these guys more often than your family a lot of times. And these guys really become your family.
So I think you have to lean on them. You have to root and pull for each over. I think a good example was that game, game 161, where I ended up hitting a home run and I was like over three or something and I had four or five guys come up to me and say, Just relax, calm down, you're going to come up with a big hit. And, sure enough, it worked out that way.
But it was just incredible to have four or five guys, four of your teammates come up to you and say, Relax, we're going to be all right, and really kind of support you, which it's awesome.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Matt.
MATT JOYCE: Thanks, guys.

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