Anaheim trip a homecoming for Moore

Mariners utility man grew up 10 miles from Angel Stadium

April 19th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- figures he’s watched more than 500 games at Angel Stadium, where his family had season tickets while he was growing up about 10 miles away in Yorba Linda.

But the rookie utility player had a different view on Thursday, suiting up for his first appearance at the stadium as a member of the visiting Mariners.

“It’s awesome,” Moore said as he prepared for Thursday’s series opener in the visitor's clubhouse. “It’s one of those things I’ve wanted for a long time. I’m usually up above. Now I’m underneath the stadium getting ready to come out of the woodwork and play for the Mariners on the field that I’ve always wanted to play on.”

The 26-year-old competed several times at the stadium for Cypress Junior College when it faced an Angels scout team in some fall practice games years ago, but this is different. This is the big leagues and now his parents, two sisters and brothers are watching him, just as he used to watch Major Leaguers in awe from the seats right behind the visiting dugout.

“I came to so many, so many games as a kid,” Moore said. “This is where I grew up learning to love the game, watching guys like Mo Vaughn and Vladimir Guerrero and Darin Erstad and David Eckstein and everybody play. This is where my love for the game evolved. So it’s pretty cool to come back.”

As a youngster, did he let himself dream just a little about getting a chance to play in these games?

“Definitely. I was hoping I’d be playing for the Angels, but this is all right,” he said with a laugh. “This is pretty cool.”

Moore has had some adventurous times this rookie season. He’s played in 13 games, hitting .160 with a home run in 25 at-bats. He’s started two games each at second base, shortstop and third base, providing solid defensive play outside of the one notable game when he committed errors on three straight plays in the ninth inning before Seattle escaped with a 6-5 win against the Red Sox.

Moore wasn’t in the lineup Thursday, but manager Scott Servais said the versatile youngster will continue to get plenty of action as the club doesn’t want him sitting for long stretches.

“He’s a young player, and we want to continue to play him,” Servais said. “You’ll see it on this road trip some. He’ll get a day at short, a day at third, we’ll keep moving him in there. If there’s an injury, he slides in anywhere. He’s handled all the defenses.

“After the one little hiccup in the game early in the year against the Red Sox, he’s handled everything fine. And his attitude has been fine the whole time. He’s looking forward to getting a chance and we’re going to continue to give it to him.”

Moore played primarily at shortstop and second base growing up, but transformed into more of a utility player as a Minor Leaguer in the Rangers, Braves and Brewers organizations. The Mariners liked what they saw and signed him to a big league contract last winter with the hope he could grow with the young nucleus being built for the future.

“I’m not playing as well as I wish I would be yet, but you just have to take advantage of every opportunity and let the past be the past,” Moore said. “The same way we need to get rid of these losses is the same way I look at each of my opportunities. Even though they don’t come every day, be ready for every single chance.”

And when that opportunity comes at the stadium where he hung over the rail and chased down foul balls as a kid while dreaming of just this situation? He knows how much it will mean to his family, who attended those hundreds of games with him over the years.

"It’s one of those things that doesn’t even need to be said," he acknowledged with a smile, "because everyone knows how cool this is.”