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Rays' Matt Moore returns to old workout plan

Matt Moore spent three months in Tempe, Ariz., working five days a week to improve his overall strength and conditioning.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Matt Moore spent three months in Tempe, Ariz., working five days a week to improve his overall strength and conditioning.

PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP Matt Moore returned to his old offseason workout regimen in hopes of regaining a few miles per hour on his fastball.

Moore spent three months in Tempe, Ariz., working five days a week with trainer Keith Wilson at his Pro Advantage facility to improve his overall strength and conditioning as well as body stability and awareness.

After doing so prior to the 2010-12 seasons, Moore spent the winter before last season in the bay area doing what he thought were similar workouts, but he said he noticed the difference as soon as he got to spring training.

"I definitely didn't feel like the ball was popping out of my hand quite like it needed to be," Moore said. "It kind of felt like I was not behind schedule, but still getting ready for the season. Usually in spring training I was always trying to make a team — I show up to camp, I'm ready to go."

It was obvious last spring he wasn't, as his lack of velocity and sharpness was a steady subject of discussion. And even though Moore went 17-4, 3.29 last season and made the All-Star team, his velocity was down an average of 2 mph from 2012 (from 94.5 to 92.4, per fangraphs.com), and he had an elbow injury that forced him to the DL.

He knew he had to go back to what worked better, and the good feeling he had Sunday after throwing his first bullpen session validated that decision, leaving him confident he will throw harder and stay healthy.

"For me, it was a no-brainer to get back out there," Moore said. "The season before I probably topped out at 97 or 98 (mph), last year I probably topped out at 95-96. It's not necessarily top-end speed, it's where I'm sitting at and the effort. I feel like (last year), my effort level was just too high. I didn't come in at that above-level place where pitching is going to feel easy, and that's where I think I feel right now."

PITCHING IN: The 30 healthy pitchers in camp all threw bullpen sessions during the first two days, and manager Joe Maddon said he was impressed overall, as well as with the catchers.

Two nonroster pitchers he noticed Sunday were RHP Steve Geltz, an effective middle reliever at Triple-A Durham last year, and RHP Matt Andriese, a starter acquired from San Diego.

Maddon said the focus this early is still more on communication — "to get your message out" — than performance, and he wants players to take things slowly.

"It's about observation, not evaluation right now," he said.

BOUNCE BACK: INF Hak-Ju Lee said his recovery from surgery to repair an April left knee injury is going well, as he is running, hitting and taking ground balls. "I feel good," Lee said, hopeful though not sure he will be ready for the start of the Triple-A season. "I'm going to try to push myself."

MISCELLANY: Free agent Cuban RHP Odrisamer Despaigne threw for officials from the Rays and other teams Sunday. He had a similar showcase last week in Arizona. … RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval remained absent, delayed in their native Dominican Republic due to visa issues, possibly until late this week.

Rays' Matt Moore returns to old workout plan 02/16/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 17, 2014 8:56am]
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