Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Mechanical flaw in delivery troubling Rays' Matt Moore

FORT MYERS — Rays LHP Matt Moore said it's too early in the spring to be concerned with how hard he is, or isn't, throwing the ball. But he definitely is not pleased that it isn't going where he wants.

Moore had a second rough outing in an 8-5 win over the Twins, failing to get through his scheduled three innings — allowing two runs on two hits, two walks and a wild pitch — while throwing only 24 of his 49 pitches for strikes, falling behind almost every hitter.

"It's frustrating," he said. "Obviously I want to do well every time I go out there regardless if it's spring training or a regular game. But having said that, I understand this is the time for us to iron out those kinks, if you will, and figure things out on this stage."

Moore says the problem is a mechanical flaw in his delivery, and there was some improvement Tuesday compared to his first outing as he worked on getting better extension. But it still isn't right.

"It feels like I'm really not letting my arm catch up enough, whatever it's doing behind there," he said. "It seems like a matter of staying back on pitches. I can definitely feel when it's happening or not happening."

Moore did hit 94 mph a few times on the Hammond Stadium scoreboard radar, up slightly from his Feb. 28 debut outing but still a few ticks below his standard.

"It's my second outing, so if I'm making a couple of strides here and there in the miles-per-hour department that's great," he said. "But I'm mostly trying to figure out what exactly is going on from strike one."

Pitching coach Jim Hickey seemed more concerned with the results.

"I was fine with the way the ball was coming out of his hand, but certainly not where it was crossing home plate or not crossing home plate," Hickey said.

"The goal for the day was to kind of have a nice path to home and to have the ball come out of his hand nice and clean, and that would translate into throwing strikes. Actually he did have a decent path to the plate and it came out of his hand okay, he wasn't really yanking or spiking balls, but a little bit disappointing just because of the fact he was behind some hitters. But overall I'm perfectly happy with what transpired for his second spring outing."

IMPRESSIVE: RHP Juan Sandoval, the reliever who is blind in his right eye, had another impressive outing, working a 1-2-3 ninth and hitting 95 mph several times.

"I love that stuff, man. That's really something," said Hickey, adding that Sandoval is more impressive each time he takes the mound. "He's an interesting cat, for sure."

HAMMING IT UP: DH Luke Scott, who left Sunday's game with tightness in his left hamstring, said after riding an exercise bike for 10 minutes and running on the pool treadmill that "everything feels good," but he set no date for his return. Manager Joe Maddon said it could be by the weekend. … OF Sam Fuld has also been sidelined since Sunday with tightness in his right hamstring, though Maddon said it was a precautionary move.

GAME DETAILS: RHP Roberto Hernandez posted 22/3 hitless innings in another solid outing in his bid for a rotation spot, though he was not happy with the two walks he allowed. … The Rays (8-4) scored five in the eighth to go ahead, with key hits by Stephen Vogt, Brandon Guyer and minor-leaguer Kevin Kiermaier. … Guyer scored on a steal of home with Cole Figueroa breaking from first, bench coach Dave Martinez saying they "wanted to see what happens" given the new first-and-third balk rule. "It worked out."

DAY OF REST: The Rays have the first of three spring off days today, with no workout scheduled.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at tampabay.com.

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