ST. PETERSBURG — He played golf Monday, according to his now former manager, Kevin Cash. Matt Moore tried to put the rumors in the back of his mind.
He thought he had made it. As the 4 p.m. baseball trade deadline approached, Moore headed from the dugout at Tropicana Field to throw the football around. Usual routine. He was scheduled to be the Rays' starting pitcher tonight.
Now he isn't.
That's how baseball works. Matt Moore was a Ray, in the flesh, then he was told he was needed in the clubhouse. Now he's a San Francisco Giant.
Hey, there are a lot worse things to be.
"It's hard to imagine myself not being here after nine years," a slightly dazed Moore said. "This is my fifth season being up here with the club."
After being traded, Moore went back out on the field, still in Rays gear, to play baseball long toss with now former teammate Jake Odorizzi. He got his work in.
This is how the Rays work.
They trade pitchers.
They trade from depth, despite the fact that bad starting pitching was the central reason why they fell from contention during a 3-24 slide, one that left these final two months a formality, needing to be played only because the schedule demands it.
The Rays trade pitchers.
Usually before they make big money.
Yes, the Rays traded two position players at the deadline. Steve Pearce goes back to a contender in Baltimore. Brandon Guyer goes to get hit by pitches for a contender in Cleveland.
And Moore, 27, goes to pitch for a contender before sellout crowds.
What did the Rays get back?
All together now:
Matt Duffy, 25, one of the top rookies in the National League last season, comes over in the Moore deal, to likely to play shortstop, a desperate Rays need if you've seen Brad Miller's work when he doesn't have a bat in his hand.
Where were we?
The Rays trade pitchers. They traded Scott Kazmir. They traded Matt Garza. They traded James Shields and Wade Davis. They traded Edwin Jackson and Jeremy Hellickson. They traded David Price.
I would have moved Moore. It's not like Lefty Grove was just moved. And I would have traded more pitchers for the right price. Rays hurlers generated real interest, baseball operations chief Matt Silverman said.
Hey, at 42-62, who wasn't worth considering?
Don't rule out moving pitchers in the offseason, including Chris Archer.
By the way, the same goes for Evan Longoria. How many more comeback seasons does he have in him? I'm just saying.
First and foremost, the Rays trade pitchers.
"It's very tough to say goodbye to Matt Moore," Silverman said. "He's someone who's been in our organization for nearly a decade. … He's pitched some incredible games for us, helped us raise some banners, fought through a Tommy John surgery and came back stronger than ever. When you think about the recent history of this franchise, Matt Moore is one of those faces."
Right. Well put.
There were some great Matty Moore moments. He was drafted in the eighth round in 2007. He joined the big-league club in September 2011. Next thing we knew, in just his fourth big-league game, he threw seven innings of two-hit shutout ball against Texas in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Moore went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 2013. The breakthrough. There was his perfect inning at the All-Star Game.
He went down early in 2014, off to Tommy John and the long road back.
He battled after returning last season. This season, Moore battled some more and gained his form more quickly than any struggling Rays starter. He's 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA over his past nine starts. That'll get you traded right off a lousy baseball team every time.
Now the Rays must hope that Alex Cobb, their next contestant coming off Tommy John, eventually replaces Moore.
That's for then,
On Monday, Matt Moore stood outside his former clubhouse.
"I was pretty surprised," he said. "Even heading into today, I kind of thought things were going to stay the same. It's definitely a lot of different feelings going through now, but it's starting … it definitely feels real at this point."
It was real.
And typical Rays.
Another young pitcher out the door.