Club calling elbow injury "strain," remaining optimistic lefty can pitch again in '14
CINCINNATI -- A wait-and-see climate continues to prevail in the case of Matt Moore's injured left elbow.
Moore addressed reporters prior to Friday night's game, and he remained optimistic that he can still pitch this season. As the situation stands, the Rays left-hander's MRIs will be looked at by Koco Eaton, the Rays' orthopedic team physician, who is currently out of the country.
Moore noted that he's trying not to get too far ahead of himself. He could possibly be playing catch as early as next week in Baltimore, which would allow him to test the state of his elbow.
"As far as right now goes, we're just waiting to see what Koco has to say," Moore said. "Waiting for him to get back in the country and see where we're at after three or four days of rest and not throwing, letting the [dye from the second MRI] get out of there. ... As far as that other stuff goes, we'll answer those questions later."
Moore's status came as a surprise Friday, as most expected that the team would be announcing Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar-collateral ligament in Moore's left elbow.
Rays manager Joe Maddon had indicated after Wednesday afternoon's game in Kansas City that Moore had a partially torn UCL, as discovered during the pitcher's Wednesday visit to orthopedic surgeon James Andrews for his second MRI of the week. In deference to the first MRI Moore had Tuesday at the University of Kansas Medical Center, contrast dye was injected into his elbow. The dye allows for better imaging, which revealed the tear.
Maddon and the Rays are now calling Moore's injury a "strain," for lack of a better term.
"It's not fully torn," Maddon said. "There's so many different descriptions of what it may be -- there's been different interpretations given to me and us, exactly what it is. That's why we're choosing to use the word [strained], because I don't have definitive regarding being half-torn, three-quarters torn, or a quarter torn.
"It's been very non-precise, so we're just going to chose to use this word right now. And then after Dr. Eaton gets a chance to look at it, hopefully we'll be able to give you more information. In the meantime, [we'll] have Matt throw and see where it's at and see if there's any other way to get this well."
Moore was giving the impression that he wants to try and pitch without having surgery, but he said he doesn't want to just continue pitching until more damage is done.
"If there's any pain, it's not going to be something I'm going to try and work through," Moore said. "I think the goal is to get to a place where I don't feel pain. And if I can get to that in the next few days just playing catch, then it's a good sign to keep going. If not, then it's a sign in the [other direction]. I'm optimistic about playing catch."
Moore, who went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts in 2013, started for the Rays against the Royals on Monday night and seemed to be finding a groove when he entered the fifth inning. With one out, he grimaced after throwing a changeup to Nori Aoki that made the count 2-2. Moore then wiggled his left arm in obvious discomfort before a mound conference that included Maddon and assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker. Shortly thereafter, he left the game.
On Tuesday, Moore's first MRI of the week did not paint a clear picture of his injury. Later that day, the Rays placed him on the 15-day disabled list and scheduled his trip to Pensacola, Fla., to see Andrews.
Based on the results of Moore's second MRI, the Rays debated -- and are still debating -- whether he should have surgery or try rehabbing the injury since he did not have a complete tear.
Included in Moore's 2013 season was a prolonged stint on the disabled list due to an elbow problem. A problem he encountered after throwing a changeup, which was the same pitch that caused Tuesday night's grimace.
Moore earned American League All-Star honors last season, his second full season in the Major Leagues. He is 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA in two starts this season.