Matt Moore finally got an opportunity to pitch in his first ever major league spring training game yesterday. I know, I know; when you’ve already got regular season and post-season wins under your belt, it’s hard to feel overwhelmed by a spring training appearance…and a relief one at that. However, yesterday’s performance, combined with his prior starts in 2011, only strengthened his argument for a spot on the starting rotation. And with the news of the optioning of three Rays pitchers (including prospect Chris Archer and Alex Cobb) to Durham, compounded with the last few starts of Jeff Niemann, it’s kind of hard to imagine a starting rotation with Wade Davis, and without Matt Moore.
Sure, the superlatives surrounding Moore will die down after a couple of, future, less than amazing starts. Yet, watching Moore at the moment is, frankly, pretty damn awesome. It’s hard not to get caught up in the wave, especially when Moore bested one of baseball’s best pitchers, and Moore’s teammate David Price, yesterday. In 1 2/3 innings, more struck out three and dominated the Orioles hitters with a dazzling change-up, and a fastball that topped out at 97 MPH. All this from a pitcher coming off of an injury and no real playing experience (unless you consider throwing batting practice or bullpen sessions experience) since October of last year. It’s also hard not to feel giddy when some of those superlatives are coming from the mouths of folks within the Rays organization.
“No one touches it,” Rays catcher Jose Molina said of Moore’s fastball. “It’s hard to hit off him. I mean, it’s hard to catch him, imagine hitting off him. You really have to be in your game when you’re behind the plate so you don’t lose it and it hits you right in the mask.” Lot’s of pitchers can ratchet up the heat in times of need. Yet, what separates Moore from, say, Price is his change-up. Even Price made mention of what could be one of Moore’s most dangerous pitches, “He’s got the equalizer right now in that change-up. His change-up is very good. Those hitters don’t see it very well, and when he’s throwing 95, 97, 98 like he does and he can throw an invisa-ball like the change-up that he has, that’s pretty tough.” Forget not his curveball which is yet another pitch that makes Moore a triple threat of sorts.
One can only imagine how absolutely dangerous this starting rotation could be in 2012 with a healthy fastball and spiked curveball throwing Jeff Niemann, a killer change-up and curveball throwing James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson, a power throwing David Price, and, the triple threat that is Matt Moore. “If we’re going into somebody’s town and the other guys were to hear they’re going to see Shields, Price and Moore I don’t think they feel like they have an advantage there or that it’s going to be any fun. ‘Oh we’re going to see Matt Moore and David Price back-to-back. Oh good. We’re going to figure the other guy out.’ I think sometimes that gets overplayed,” noted the skip yesterday in a Tampa Bay Online piece. “…If I’m going into a town knowing I’m going to face those two guys back-to-back, (I’m) probably already thinking if I go 1-for-9 I’ll be happy.”
A tale of two outfielders…
According to Joe Smith of the Times,
There was a scary moment here in the fourth inning for the Rays, when LF Desmond Jennings and CF B.J. Upton collided in left-center while trying to go for a fly ball by Marlins DH Austin Kearns. Both were down on the ground for a minute or so, with several teammates – and trainers – racing to the warning track. Upton seemed to get the worst of it, writhing on the ground. He was helped up, and both were put on a cart and taken back to the clubhouse. Upton and Jennings seemed better after the initial reactions – sitting upright while on the cart – but we’ll post updates when we get them. Both CF B.J. Upton and LF Desmond Jennings are fine after their fourth-inning collision in left-center, that they just have general soreness and were removed as a precaution.
If there’s a god, apparently he/she is now making cuts to the roster…
Also according to Joe Smith of the Times,
Rays catcher Robinson Chirinos is sidelined with a concussion, suffered earlier this week when he took a foul tip off his mask.
Manager Joe Maddon said he isn’t sure when Chirinos will return to game action, but they’re monitoring him each day. The injury could definitely impact Chirinos’ chances of making the Opening Day roster, as he’s competing with C Jose Lobaton, C Chris Gimenez and C Stephen Vogt for the second catcher spot.