Rays' Matt Moore may be headed for elbow surgery

Matt Moore was removed from Monday's game in Kansas City in the middle of a fifth-inning at-bat.
Matt Moore was removed from Monday's game in Kansas City in the middle of a fifth-inning at-bat.
Published April 9, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The news on Matt Moore's sore elbow was obviously not good Tuesday, as the Rays are sending their talented left-hander immediately to see noted specialist Dr. James Andrews.

By this afternoon, the Rays should know just how bad, with indications that surgery is possible — if not probable — to repair a torn ligament that would sideline Moore for more than a year.

"Hopefully we'll be able to find a place where maybe the surgery isn't the option No. 1, and we'll be able to get to a place of comfortability so I can finish the year,'' Moore said.

Moore had a basic MRI exam on Tuesday in Kansas City, which Rays officials said was "inconclusive," prompting them to have Moore, 24, fly out this morning to Pensacola for Andrews to do a more detailed MRI, with dye injected, and examination.

In the interim they put Moore on the 15-day disabled list, recalling reliever Jeff Beliveau to add depth to the bullpen while they decide primarily between using reliever Cesar Ramos or calling up veteran Erik Bedard from Triple A to take Moore's rotation spot.

"Anytime a pitcher goes on the DL and is going to see Dr. Andrews, you have reason to be concerned," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "So we're concerned until we're told not to be concerned."

Though Moore was optimistic when he woke up Tuesday without the soreness that forced him from Monday's game or any inflammation, the mood and talk around the clubhouse seemed more pessimistic as the day went on, with Tommy John ligament replacement surgery appearing to be the likely outcome.

"It's kind of a weird situation as far as the severity of things … how much they've jumped from what I was thinking earlier this morning," Moore said. "Now the MRI is something we want to get a little better picture of. So it's frustrating even more so now."

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged that the injury was worse than head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield first thought in saying Monday that it was less severe than the soreness that sidelined Moore for a month last season.

"From the original test it was a little bit worse, or more, than we had thought originally because (Monday) night Ronnie was pretty confident it was not going to be at the level that it had been last year," Maddon said. "But it was a little bit more than we thought originally."

Friedman said there "were different interpretations" of the MRI, without elaborating, and they wanted Andrews, who heads their medical staff, to get a first-hand look, and also for there to be additional time since Moore pitched.

Friedman said the fact that Moore didn't feel sore Tuesday was encouraging but did not eliminate the potential for surgery.

"I don't think anything is ruled out, but the fact that he feels good right now is a good sign," Friedman said. "He feels like he normally does the day after pitching, so that's a good thing. But we're kind of waiting with bated breath until we get the official diagnosis."

Moore said if he needs surgery, he would like to get it done as quickly as possible, likely while in Pensacola on this trip. His disappointment over the possibility of missing the rest of the season — in addition to the first half of next — was clear.

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"I don't think necessarily the surgery part concerns me or the rehab part, it's the preparation that went into this season for the guys in the locker room and everyone that goes into this particular organization, a lot of high hopes, a lot of expectations and things that we prepared for this season that I very much want to be a part of, and I have not ruled out any part of that," he said.

Moore's injury further depletes the starting pitching depth. The Rays are also without Jeremy Hellickson, who is aiming for a June 1 return from arthroscopic elbow surgery, and Alex Colome, who is suspended until late May for failing a drug test.

Bedard, who threw 60 pitches over four innings Monday in his first start for Triple-A Durham, was re-signed to a minor-league deal for this purpose, so he would seem the likely choice. Maddon said a reason for recalling Beliveau was to provide protection so they can hold Ramos back until deciding.

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