Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays confident Matt Moore will be able to bounce back when adversity hits

DETROIT — Rookie left-hander Matt Moore is going to pitch very good games this season for the Rays. There will be times when he dominates from the start, blows away hitters with his easy-looking fastball, looks every bit like the whiz kid who came up at the end of last season, tearing through the Red Sox, the Yankees and, in the playoff opener, the Rangers.

It might even happen this afternoon, when he makes his 2012 debut against the hot-swinging Tigers at chilly Comerica Park.

But there also will be games when Moore doesn't dazzle, when he may look very much like a 22-year-old in his first extended big-league action, when he can't throw strikes, when he gets hit early and often. And facing Miguel Cabrera and Price Fielder back-to-back a few times today may not be the best place to start.

"I know it's not going to be easy," Moore said. "Last year, the small time that I had obviously went well. And I know it's not going to be like that. I'm expecting to have to make adjustments this season for sure."

And it's how he handles those struggles that will determine how successful he really is.

"It's going to happen for him at some point, and he has to learn how to get back on track. I feel like that's the toughest part," said starter David Price, who preceded Moore on the phenom track.

"Once you start rolling down that hill, you've got to find a way to stop it. And it's not easy. Every team you face is tough. They know when you're not throwing well. They've seen your past couple starts. The toughest part is when you start to lose it a little bit to get back on top, to find out what you're doing wrong and correct it."

The Rays are confident Moore will be able to adjust, not just because of his talent but because they believe he has the poise, the maturity and the intelligence. Manager Joe Maddon said a player in this position has to be physically, emotionally and mentally ready, and they feel Moore stands apart in all three areas.

"He's an anomaly guy," Maddon said.

"Very mature, well beyond his years," said staff ace James Shields. "There's going to be some times during the season when we're going to have some talks about adversity and some of the things that go on. But he's very receptive. He's very coachable. And he's a good pitcher on top of it. He has all the qualities to be successful."

Moore hasn't always had it easy, which should make it easier to traverse the inevitable ups and downs during his anticipated 33 starts this season.

He was a repeater at rookie-level Princeton (W. Va) in his second pro season after debuting there as an eighth-round pick in 2007. He began the 2010 season at advanced Class A Charlotte, going 0-7 with a 6.63 ERA through his first 11 starts, but then went 6-4, 1.39 and says now that's when he learned, working with pitching coach Neil Allen, what weapons he had and how to make the requisite adjustments to win.

"If you ask any pitcher, when they've got their good stuff and they're controlling it, they can get a lot of guys out in a row," Moore said. "It's a matter of can you get the ball in and out? How's your stuff? If it's not sharp, what are you going to do with it? Those are the adjustments, when you don't have the best stuff you want, that's what I'm talking about."

Just to be opening this season in the big leagues is something of an accomplishment.

"That's pretty incredible," Maddon said. "That just speaks to him. You can talk about development all you want — that's about a player. That's about a unique talent more than anything."

After an offseason and spring of grand expectations, fame and fortune (a long-term deal guaranteeing him $14 million over five years and up to $40 million over eight), Moore is eager to get started. His parents and a half-dozen other relatives will be in the stands today when he walks up the mound.

His manager is confident he is up to the challenge, that "his stuff pitches against the best" and "they're pretty good but I don't think that's going to bother him."

Said Moore: "I'm excited."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18