CINCINNATI — Any decision on surgery for Rays LHP Matt Moore will be delayed for several days to allow time for him to test his injured left elbow playing catch and for team doctor Koco Eaton to offer an additional opinion.
Though the two MRI exams Moore has had since walking off the mound Monday in Kansas City with soreness have apparently indicated some kind of ligament tear, Moore said he is feeling better than when he had a lesser issue last year. So the Rays want to wait at least a few days to see if the soreness lessens or disappears.
Also, they want Eaton, who returns tonight from doing charity work in Guatemala, to compare the high-contrast MRI exam done Wednesday by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola with three previous ones. The team wants to get a better sense if the damage, or how much of the damage, is new or old. Moore had arthroscopic surgery on the elbow in 2010.
"They're kind of conflicting reports; the MRI says 'X' and I'm telling you 'Y', so it's a little bit hard to line things up with certainty," Moore said. "I think in the next 3-5 days we should have a decent idea what direction we're going to go."
Moore, 24, wants to avoid elbow ligament replacement surgery, which would sideline him 11-15 months. If he feels good playing catch next week in Baltimore, the Rays could consider a plan of rehab and strengthening to see if he can return later this season.
But, Moore said, "if there's any pain it's not going to be something I'm going to try to work through."
And the Rays won't want to wait too long because it would impact how much of the 2015 season he would miss if he ends up having surgery.
Moore declined to go into any details of the specific injury, and the Rays are officially calling it a strain.
Manager Joe Maddon said the ulnar collateral ligament is not fully torn (which would require surgery), but "there's been different interpretations" and they don't "have a definite regarding it being half torn, three-quarters torn, a quarter torn. It's just not been very precise."
CESAR ON SUNDAY: LHP Cesar Ramos will take Moore's spot in the rotation Sunday, though veteran LHP Erik Bedard is being called up from Triple A to add depth to the bullpen.
Maddon said Ramos earned the nod based on his strong spring bid for the No. 5 spot won by RHP Jake Odorizzi and the conversations team officials had with him about it.
"This was the right thing to do right now to give him that opportunity," Maddon said.
Though Ramos hasn't worked more than 1 2/3 innings, or thrown more than 23 pitches in a game since March 20, Maddon said the team believes he can handle about 75 pitches Sunday.
Bedard also competed for the No. 5 job, was released to seek another big-league job and then re-signed with the Rays. He made one start at Durham, throwing 60 pitches over four innings.
If Ramos pitches well, he could keep the spot, but if not, the Rays could simply switch to Bedard. The next turn is Friday against the Yankees.
SPECIAL K: OF Kevin Kiermaier said being called up from Durham this time felt more normal than when he was summoned from a hitting camp in Port Charlotte last season to join the Rays for Game 163 and the wild-card game.
"It felt really good," he said.
Plus, he will get major-league service time; he didn't for Game 163. And his brother, who lives in the Cincinnati area, and his parents, three hours away in Fort Wayne, Ind., made the trip. Kiermaier, who adds a left-handed bat and speed to the bench, seems to be in for a short stay, likely to be sent down to make room for Bedard.
MISCELLANY: The Rays got their first win in Cincinnati, swept in a 2005 visit. … C Jose Molina got his first hit of the season. … RHP Alex Cobb said he is excited but realistic about what will be his second time batting in a game; 0-for-3 thus far. … Odorizzi, tapping into Dr. Seuss, ordered Thing 1 and Thing 2 T-shirts for himself and Cobb, playing off the nickname of the pitch Cobb taught him. … Free agent C Chris Gimenez opted to re-sign a minor-league deal with Texas. The Rays had interest in him for Triple A. … The farm team in Princeton, W. Va., organized a bus trip for fans today's game.