Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Matt Moore seems okay after line drive hits face

FORT MYERS — His left lower lip was still bloodied and swollen after being stitched up, the other side of his face hurt and his memory was fuzzy.

But what Rays pitcher Matt Moore felt more than anything else Sunday afternoon was lucky.

"We're very lucky today," Moore said. "Extremely fortunate."

Moore appeared to escape serious injury after being struck in the face by a line drive during Sunday's 9-2 win over the Red Sox, walking away with only a cut lip that required 4-5 stitches, and with a major scare.

Moore, 24, was to be further monitored Sunday night after passing initial concussion tests at JetBlue Park, and he will have X-rays today to make sure there isn't a fracture to his jaw or damage to the roots of his teeth. But he said he was otherwise okay and expects to be ready to start the regular season next week.

Manager Joe Maddon had a similar initial report on his 2013 All-Star who is projected to be the Rays' No.  3 starter.

"It doesn't look like there's anything awful, so he should be okay to pitch, I would think," Maddon said. "Right now there's no dizziness, I understand. No headaches, that's a good thing. Let's just wait until (today) and see what's concluded."

Moore, speaking about 90 minutes after the play, said, "I honestly don't remember" exactly what happened as the Xander Bogaerts liner came at him or how he raised both arms and apparently deflected it slightly with his bare hand. The ball knocked him back and down.

"It happened very fast," he said. "I'm not for certain at all. As far as what it hit, I can't believe that it really just came off his bat and hit me in the face and this is what happened. I would think it would be a little more. I think I'd be missing some teeth."

Moore's first move was to locate, pick up and flip the ball to first for the final out of the fourth, earning praise from first baseman Sean Rodriguez and other players for being "a gamer."

"I just remember as soon as it hit me looking for the ball, and I saw it," Moore said.

As Moore, 24, walked toward the dugout, he put his hand to his chin and realized he was bleeding, and Rays personnel moved to his aid. He was checked out in the dugout, then moved to an adjacent small grounds crew area where there was shade and an electric fan. He was taken out of the stadium as a passenger in a golf cart and was examined and treated in the Red Sox clubhouse.

The topic of pitchers being hit by line drives was a popular one in the Rays clubhouse last week after Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face, stirring memories of the horrific scenes last season when Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ and Rays pitcher Alex Cobb were hit five weeks apart and hurt badly enough to miss extensive time.

Maddon said Moore's immediate reaction Sunday kept him from thinking the worst, though his lack of recall was a concern.

"It wasn't like Cobber laying down there holding his head (and) the ball bounced back," Maddon said. "There's a different vibe with that. We all thought (Moore) was okay. Then I asked him what happened and he wasn't quite sure. Okay, that's it. And then we did the testing. But it's not like when Alex got hit. It was a different feeling based on the reaction of the pitcher."

Barring complications, Moore said the incident shouldn't keep him from being available to start the season next week. "I really couldn't see a reason why it would," he said. "They're telling me the mouth is going to heal up pretty quick and it's just a cut on my lip. It was nice to have the concussion test go smoothly like that, so we're not worrying about too many different things. … I definitely feel fortunate (that it) just hit my mouth and not anywhere potentially more dangerous."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]



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