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Rays' Matt Moore out for season

Matt Moore says that after playing catch, it was clear that he wasn’t going to feel comfortable trying to pitch through his elbow injury and could only make it worse.
Matt Moore says that after playing catch, it was clear that he wasn’t going to feel comfortable trying to pitch through his elbow injury and could only make it worse.
Published Apr. 15, 2014

BALTIMORE — Rays All-Star pitcher Matt Moore has decided to have surgery on his left elbow next week and will be sidelined for about a year.

Moore told the Tampa Bay Times after Monday night's game of his decision to have Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, saying the discomfort he felt during an afternoon throwing session made it clear he could not pitch with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

"What was coming out, it's a shame to have to be shut down right now, but it just wasn't comfortable," Moore said. "Being stuck in the position I am right now, where it's not exactly comfortable but it's not exactly completely broke, it's kind of one of those things that you know it's going to get worse. If we had to have our best guess, that was what we would say — it's going to get worse."

Noted specialist Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery on Moore on April 22.

Moore, who walked off the mound April 7 in Kansas City with soreness in his pitching elbow, said he felt worse about what he will miss than the extensive rehab he now faces over the next 11-15 months.

"I think I probably feel worse for missing out on what's about to happen with this squad, more so than it's my elbow, it's going to get better," Moore, 24, said.

"I'll figure out a way, find a way to compete on the mound. I'm not fearful of that. A lot of guys that came before me with the surgery have kind of paved the way with the rehab process in terms of what to do and what not to do.

"I'm going to try to go into it with open ears and an open mind and just try to come out better than I was before."

Moore was selected to the AL All-Star team and won 17 games last season, despite missing a month with elbow soreness. When he first felt the discomfort last week, he thought it was a similar situation, and with rest and rehab he would be able to pitch through it.

But MRI exams showed at least a partial tear of the ligament, and Monday's session of playing catch and throwing some pitches on flat ground made it clear he needed to have the surgery, and soon, to minimize how much of the 2015 season he misses.

"I gave it all I had" Monday, Moore said. "I really tweaked on it. I threw a lot of good pitches."

Moore is in the middle of a five-year contract that guarantees him $14 million, with a $1 million salary this season, $3 million next and $5 million in 2016. The Rays hold options of $7 million in 2017, $9 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.

Moore will be the 13th major-league pitcher to have the ligament replacement surgery since the start of spring training.

The surgery has become common and relatively successful. According to a December study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 83 percent of the 179 pitchers who had the operation returned to the majors and 97.2 percent at least made it back to pro ball.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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