From Army to infield: Not much rust for Moore
Having played for Class A Eugene before returning to military, Lt. back with Padres
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One of the more interesting players in the Padres' Minor League camp this spring arrived in Peoria, Ariz., with a pretty unique title:
Meet Clint Moore, infielder and First Lieutenant in the Army.
Moore was selected in the 31st round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft after graduating from the United States Military Academy. It was during his 60 days of leave after graduation that Moore appeared in 21 games at short-season Class A Eugene, hitting .222, before resuming his military obligation.
Moore hasn't played in an organized baseball game since then, though he's shown well in morning drills and games on the Minor League side and hasn't exhibited much rust at all.
"From the baseball side, for being out two years, he's looked pretty darn good. We're all a little shocked. He's been good to have in camp and has performed well," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development.
"Take the baseball out of it for a minute and there's leadership there ... there's the leading by example. You want to have good players, but also have people who helped guys get to the big leagues. He could help the guy next to him reach his potential."
Moore, who is currently in the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve), has already been a platoon leader and said there's a lot of parallels between the military and baseball.
"You're part of a family here and it's the same thing in the Army," he said. "As a platoon leader, you're bonding with your guys and girls, doing training with them, you're responsible for them, their welfare and you know how they're doing day to day. You make sure everything is good with them.
"And like with baseball, it's not about you but the person to your left and right. You want to make that person better."
Moore completed his basic officer training, where he was an air defense officer skilled with patriot missile training. He later went to Ranger School, where he nearly completed the training program if it wasn't for one misstep during his Ruck March, a grueling 12-mile march with an 80-pound pack.
"I made it to mile No. 10, only to have my ankle give out," Moore said.
For two years, he didn't play a single game. While stationed at Fort Bragg, he watched as many games on television as he could. But he didn't just watch them.
"As I watched, I challenged myself to pick pitches," Moore said. "Like it was a 3-2 count, what are they throwing? That helped me. If it's a 1-0 count, what's the pitcher going to throw? It was a way to stay a little sharper. I feel that it allowed me to jump back into this pretty well."
Moore played shortstop at Army and third base for Eugene in 2011. He's been working at second base in Minor League camp. He'll likely begin the season in Arizona in extended spring training. Despite his two-year absence from the game, Moore has no regrets.
"[The Army has] made me a better person, a better leader," Moore said. "Hopefully that transitions out here onto the baseball field. It's been pretty unique. I've always wanted to follow a unique path."