2/23/2014 4:59 P.M. ET
Extra offseason work paying off for Moore
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Matt Moore told reporters when camp opened that he worked out with Pro Advantage Training in Arizona for three months this offseason in hopes of getting past any physical issues in 2014.
Moore did not work out in Arizona prior to the 2013 season, which was a change after doing so prior to the 2010, '11, and '12 campaigns.
In addition to avoiding injuries, Moore said he hoped to get his body more behind his pitches, rather than just his arm, and perhaps even find a few miles per hour for his fastball.
On Sunday, after throwing a live batting practice, Moore noted that he felt noticeably better than he did a year ago. Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn't help but notice Moore's work.
"He worked out of the windup and out of the stretch, threw some really good curveballs, had a lot of hop on the ball," Maddon said. "I'd say for the first day I saw him pitch to live hitters his velocity looked pretty impressive. So I don't know exactly what it was, but there was a lot of jump on the ball and some really good break."
Moore said it was too early to tell if his offseason work had paid off with added heat to his fastball.
"I haven't had a radar gun, but the ball just feels really good right now, the timing of things coming out," Moore said. "Feels like the ball's carrying to the target a little more than me trying to drive it. Those two mindsets are a little bit different. But we'll see when things come out."
He observed that when he is throwing the ball well, he's "not reaching back for more."
"I don't need to throw the ball any harder, because it's already getting there fast enough," Moore said. "Now, just make sure that I'm kind of painting that stroke. Make sure that I'm staying in my lane. Make sure that my body is staying back. And usually if the ball is coming out good and my arm feels quick, if that's a good word for it, if it feels like that, usually my mind isn't thinking, like, 'Get down that hill, get down that hill.' Usually I have a little more clarity on the mound, probably a slower heart rate, whatever you want to call it."
Daily steps forward have Zobrist feeling good
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ben Zobrist (lower back) continues to make progress in moving toward regular baseball activity.
When giving his daily update on that progress, Zobrist told reporters that he felt good.
"I got to run today," Zobrist said. "I got to do some exercises, get on my feet and move around."
Zobrist speculated that he could go outside on Monday and "do some more stuff."
"I might get to do some twisting stuff tomorrow, they said," Zobrist said. "Like everything I did today was easy, didn't bother me or anything, so I'm sure we're going to advance it tomorrow. Get closer to being 100 percent."
Zobrist noted that he had his own thoughts about his progression.
"I'd like to do some stuff on the field on Tuesday with the guys," he said. "I may not be able to do everything. They may not let me swing 100 percent yet. But maybe I'll be able to stretch out there and throw, and do some ground balls and things like that. I think they might let me do some ground balls on my own tomorrow. Just easy. But I'm hoping by Tuesday I can get out there and do them with everybody. … We'll see how it goes. It kind of depends on whether I'm sore tomorrow from some of the stuff we did."
Option game comes into play for some Rays
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Given the status of the Rays' roster this spring, some decisions about who will make the final cut could depend on injuries as well as which players have options.
Players who are out of options include Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Guyer and Matt Joyce.
Not in that group is right-hander Brandon Gomes, who is a bullpen candidate. He has one remaining option, which means the Rays can option him to the Minor Leagues and not risk having another team claim him. Thus, his option situation will make it more difficult for him to make the team if he's battling a player -- who is out of options -- for a roster spot.
"If you don't get that the business part is a significant portion of how things are run, it's almost ignorant to go about your business that way, because it does factor into decisions," Gomes said. "It's just part of the game.
"But [the situation] is really no different from your first or second Spring Training. You really just have to handle what you can handle. Know the possibilities, and be OK with it."
The rule is in place so organization's can't stockpile players. Eventually a player will run out of options, at which point he has to get through waivers in order to remain with the club. Gomes said he can appreciate the way the options situation eventually works in a player's favor.
"Yeah, I mean, everything is put in place there for a reason," Gomes said. "At one point it would be beneficial for you. At another point it would hurt you. It's part of the game. It's part of the business. But it's really a non factor. If you take care of what you're supposed to take care of, then it will work out."
Meanwhile, Guyer, who is an outfield candidate, is out of options this spring. That puts him in an odd situation, because a player wants to be loyal to the organization in which he plays, but he also wants to get to the Major Leagues.
"I love being here," said Guyer, who came to the Rays in a trade with the Cubs prior to the 2011 season. "That's the ultimate goal is being in the Major Leagues with the Rays. They're going to be such a good team. I'd love to be a part of that with these teammates. But when it comes down to it the ultimate goal is to be in the big leagues. But like I said, I would love for it to be here, but we'll see what happens."
Guyer noted that he feels as though he's paid his dues.
"When I haven't made the team, I've gone to Triple-A and I've played as hard as I could," Guyer said. "And I've put up really good years. I don't want to say there's nothing left for me to prove at Triple-A, but every year I feel like I've done pretty well. We'll see what happens, but I feel like after the year I had last year, even though I was hurt for a month, I put myself in a really good position to make this team. And I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.