Texas Rangers

The search for a fix continues for self-described work-in-progress Moore

After a 1-5 start with a 7.99 ERA, Matt Moore came off the disabled list Wednesday to start for the Rangers in Seattle.
After a 1-5 start with a 7.99 ERA, Matt Moore came off the disabled list Wednesday to start for the Rangers in Seattle. AP

While fans of the Texas Rangers await the return of Adrian Beltre from the 10-day disabled list, most might yawn or cringe at the DL news from Wednesday.

Matt Moore was reinstated so that he could start against the Seattle Mariners in the third game of a four-game series at Safeco Field. Unlike with Beltre, it's hard to say that Moore has been missed.

He was placed on the DL on May 18 after another ineffective start in which he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs (four earned) to the lowly Chicago White Sox. The Rangers actually won that night, their only W in the four-game series.

But Moore wasn't good, again, and some right knee soreness turned into a convenient way to get him out of the rotation for a spell and to give him some time to work on things.

What things? He wouldn't exactly say Tuesday as he spoke to reporters, though the main purpose is to not struggle anymore or to struggle less and less.

"It think more so it's a work-in-progress," Moore said.

Gulp.

That didn't generate a lot of encouragement for how he would fare against the Mariners. And how far away must he be if he's still a work-in-progress three months after he first showed up at spring training?

"We're results-oriented in the end," Moore said. "I think when the results come, we'll know I'm there."

The results were there early in the late game that didn't finish before press time. Moore opened with two scoreless innings, recording four of the six outs on strikeouts as his curveball looked sharper, but then allowed four runs (three earned) over the next two innings as the Rangers trailed 4-2.

He exited after 5 1/3 innings having allowed eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Tony Barnette allowed the runner he inherited from Moore to score.

The key to sustaining success, he said generally speaking, is that his delivery must get him going more toward home plate instead of falling off toward third base.

His immediate goal was to give the Rangers a chance to win, though the hitters would have their hands full against James Paxton. Moore said that working a simulated game and a couple bullpen sessions while on the DL gave him a pressure-free environment to address his issues, which seem to date to last season.

The fixes, though, can't magically happen after a few bullpen sessions or games, Moore said.

He's also realistic about what he has done so far this season, though he claims that he didn't view his first start off the DL as a test he needed to pass to keep his rotation spot. He flatly said no when asked if he had considered that he might be on the verge of losing the spot — or worse.

"I'm in a pretty big hole here as my personal season goes," Moore said. "I'm not expecting to go out there and turn it around and have the things that haven't happened be taken away. I'm going to give us a great chance to win and throw as many zeroes as I can."

Realistic, but, again, not real encouraging.

Manager Jeff Banister tried to be up beat about Moore's return, though he again said that there need to be steps in the right direction. Moore, arguably the worst starter in baseball last season, has shown well at times this season, but not enough times.

When told that Moore said it was a work-in-progress, Banister didn't disagree. With Austin Bibens-Dirkx sent to Triple A Round Rock to clear a spot for Moore, it appears as if the Rangers will give Moore time to work.

"Matt has shown in some previous games some flashes of what we've seen before when he's had success," he said. "We'd like for him to be able to go out and extend those and be consistent through the game and give us some innings. He's put a lot of effort and time in coming to spring training and getting himself back to being the pitcher that he believes he can be.

"I would think that being able to string some games together would benefit him. We're all a work-in-progress."

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