KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At least four times sitting in the visitor's dugout at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night, Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman mentioned how Matt Moore feels — "good" — and how that was "a good sign" he wouldn't necessarily need Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Friedman wasn't in denial — because we don't know yet what the results from Moore's visit to famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. will be — but it was evident he was choosing to be optimistic when it could be a dreadful waiting period. Moore, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, will fly to Andrews' office in Pensacola, Fla. on Wednesday morning to get a second opinion. An MRI done in Kansas CIty after Moore prematurely left his start Monday night was "inconclusive," Friedman said without specifying how.
The Rays hope that another MRI, done with a contrast dye injected into Moore so that the results will be easier to read, will be more definitive. That, along with Andrews' physical examination, will give Moore a better idea of what he's up against. Of course, it might be one of a pitcher's worst fears.
"We're concerned until we're told not to be concerned," Friedman said.
The initial exam by Rays athletic trainer Ron Porterfield on Monday gave hope that Moore's situation wasn't dire. That and, as Friedman said, Moore felt better than he did when he had elbow soreness in 2013 that sidelined him for a month.
Moore says he has hope again.
"Hopefully we’ll be able to find a place where the surgery isn’t option No. 1 and we’ll be able to get through a place of comfort-ability so I can finish the year," Moore said.
Some pitchers, such as Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, have continued to throw for years with a partially torn UCL before it finally gave out. It's rare, but some pitchers have stopped throwing certain pitches that give their elbow trouble. The past two times Moore has gotten hurt, it's been on changeups. Losing that, manager Joe Maddon said, would hurt his effectiveness.
All of that is getting too far ahead. Right now, Moore is concerned about what he already might be losing.
"I don’t know if the surgery part concerns me, or the rehabilitation part," Moore said. "It’s the preparation that went into this season for the guys in the locker room. There are a lot of high hopes and a lot of expectations that we prepared for this season that I still very much want to be a part of. I have not ruled out any part of that."
Tampa Bay's starting pitching depth has been hit hard, with Jeremy Hellickson already on the shelf until at least May, and minor leaguer Alex Colome serving a 50-game suspension for PEDs. Left-hander Erik Bedard, currently in Class AAA, along with major league reliever Cesar Ramos, are the top candidates to replace Moore in the rotation. His scheduled turn comes again Sunday.
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