After taking BP, Joyce nearing return

After taking BP, Joyce nearing return

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Outfielder Matt Joyce moved one step closer to a return on Saturday, taking batting practice with the club prior to Tampa Bay's game against the Orioles.

Manager Joe Maddon said that Joyce, who hasn't played since leaving Wednesday's game early with a stiff neck, could return as soon Sunday. His status will ultimately depend on how he comes through Saturday's batting practice session.

"It's getting there," Joyce said. "I'm feeling better and should be real close."

Joyce is hitting .222 (8-for-36) with one home run in 14 games this spring after posting a .235/.328/.419 slash line and hitting 18 home runs in 140 games last season.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.