Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Matt Moore sees steady improvement

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was a little concerned about LHP Matt Moore during his 27-pitch first inning Thursday.

Moore had given up a leadoff double, allowed a stolen base and balked in a run. His fastball was around 93 mph, and he was not locating it well.

"It didn't start out well," Maddon said, "but he settled in."

Moore ended up lasting six innings, giving up just one run and two hits. He said he got a better feel and command of his pitches as the game wore on, retiring 13 straight batters over a stretch.

It was sort of a microcosm of Moore's rookie season, finding his way after a rough 1-5 start to go 8-5 with a 3.01 ERA in his past 15 outings.

"I'm extremely pleased with where I've come from in the beginning of the season, when I was not really putting together too many quality starts," he said. "To now, where I'm getting a little more hungry for the eighth and ninth inning every night out, trying to see what they're like. It's getting closer."

FOR SHORT: Maddon's typically unpredictable lineup had another twist, with Ben Zobrist making his first start at shortstop since 2009.

Maddon said because Moore, a flyball pitcher, was on the mound, he tried the "experiment" because he wanted to get infielders Jeff Keppinger and Ryan Roberts both in the game at the same time, giving the Rays "our best offensive look right there, based on the personnel active right now."

Zobrist said he was asked beforehand about the move, and he was fine with it, having come up as a shortstop. He was the team's opening day starter there in 2007. "It's just like riding a bike," he quipped.

Zobrist felt good and had to make just a couple of plays Thursday. Maddon said Zobrist could start there again, when the right pitcher is on the mound. With Zobrist able to play short, the team might feel more comfortable next week if it sent INF Sean Rodriguez down to make room for DH Luke Scott (oblique strain), who is expected to come off the disabled list.

STANDING TALL: RHP Jeff Niemann admitted he was nervous before Wednesday's rehab start with Class A Charlotte, his first game since breaking the fibula in his right leg in May.

But Niemann settled down and was encouraged with how he felt in throwing 2⅔ innings (41 pitches), allowing just one run. He said he never had to cover first base, but his leg issue didn't cross his mind.

"I just really wanted to reach my pitch count and throw strikes, throw quality strikes, and throw all the pitches," he said. "And I did that."

Niemann is scheduled to throw the second of four expected rehab starts early next week, targeting a late-August return.

GREAT SCOTT: Scott will begin a rehab assignment tonight with Class A Charlotte, and Maddon acknowledged the stint "shouldn't be that long." Scott said he also will play Saturday, then be re-evaluated. It's possible Scott could rejoin the Rays in Seattle early next week. The key will be when he's able to consistently time the fastball.

MINOR MATTERS: INF Brooks Conrad accepted his assignment to Triple-A Durham, and INF Matt Mangini was released. Durham 1B Henry Wrigley, 26, was named Topps International League player of the month for July, as well as Rays minor-league player of the month, after hitting .370 with three homers and 18 RBIs. RHP Alex Colome was named Rays minor-league pitcher of the month after going 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts for Double-A Montgomery.

MISCELLANY: RHP Jeremy Hellickson said 40-50 family members and friends will make the three-hour drive from Iowa to watch his start tonight in Minneapolis. … Tonight's game will be on 970-AM due to the Bucs' preseason opener.

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Matt Moore sees steady improvement 08/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)


    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  2. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return


    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits


    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  4. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.