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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore will need to warm up quicker to adjust to relief work

BALTIMORE — The Rays were impressed enough with LHP Matt Moore's dazzling pitching in the minor leagues to bring him up to help their push for a playoff spot.

But it's how the top prospect handles getting ready to pitch in relief that will determine how large of a role he can play.

"I think it should be something I should be able to handle," Moore said. "Hopefully the biggest adjustment is just figuring out how to get loose that quick."

For a start, Moore usually throws about 40 warmup pitches during a 20-minute routine; as a reliever he won't have anywhere near as long. LHP David Price made the adjustment relatively well in 2008; RHP Jeremy Hellickson struggled with it last year.

"It's just getting ready quicker," Price said. "He has to learn how to get ready with 15-20 pitches. … That was the biggest thing for me."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he won't cast Moore in a specific relief role, such as short, long or extra-innings, and, as a concession to the transition, he plans at least initially to use him at the start of an inning.

But it was very clear how happy he is to have him: "Obviously with Kyle (Farnsworth) being hurt right now I thought we needed some help in the bullpen, and why not bring your best arm to be that guy. It worked for us in the past very successfully, so let's see if history can repeat itself."

Moore, 22, said the 8 p.m. Sunday call from farm director Mitch Lukevics with the news of his promotion was "really surprising." He had spent the day prepping and packing his Chevy Malibu with plans to leave this morning to drive home to New Mexico, assuming his season was over. "Once I got that phone call I snapped out of it pretty quick," he said.

Having already made the rise from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham, with an appearance in the All-Star Futures Game along the way, and starring the whole time with a 12-3, 1.92 record and 210 strikeouts in 155 innings, he is eager for the opportunity, especially given the stakes.

ON THE MOVE: To create space on the 40-man roster for Moore, RHP Rob Delaney was designated for assignment. The Rays, with 32 active players, have talked about the possibility of three more candidates for promotion: LHP Alex Torres, 1B Dan Johnson (who was the opening day starter) and C Robinson Chirinos.

FARNSVILLE: Farnsworth continues to receive treatment on his tender right elbow, but was not ready to progress to playing catch, the key indicator as to how soon he returns. That means it will be at least a few more days.

BACK TO REALITY: INF/OF Russ Canzler attended his first-ever big-league game at Camden Yards when he was 8 years old. Monday, he walked back in as a major-league player. "Just an amazing experience," Canzler said. "I'm just soaking it all in right now."

MISCELLANY: With their 82nd win, the Rays clinched a fourth straight winning season, fourth longest in the majors. … CF B.J. Upton broke Carlos Peña's franchise mark of 373 walks. … The Rays won their 22nd straight when scoring five or more. ... Maddon said bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, at home in Miami recovering from a throat infection, is "feeling better" but is not likely to rejoin the team this season.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore will need to warm up quicker to adjust to relief work 09/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:04am]
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