Moore happy to be healthy this Spring Training

Lefty pitched well at end of 2015 season, looks forward to games this year

Moore happy to be healthy this Spring Training

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Preparing for Spring Training brought a different kind of work for Matt Moore this season.

"I feel like I'm going to feel a part of things," Moore said. "It's nice to feel strong at this time of year."

Moore spent the month leading up to Spring Training throwing twice a week at Tropicana Field. Last year at the same time, the Rays' left-hander could be found going through the necessary rehab process required by the Tommy John surgery to his left elbow.

"A whole different feeling," Moore said of the changed scenario.

A part of the struggle for Moore, as well as other starting pitchers who have experienced the same ordeal, was the isolation. Yes, once camp opened he was with the team, but he wasn't really there because playing baseball really wasn't a part of the equation.

This spring, Moore is "looking forward to getting the games going," he said. "Looking forward to Opening Day and all the stuff that comes after Spring Training."

Moore spent the first three months of the 2015 season rehabbing from his '14 surgery, and after a five-game Minor League rehab assignment, he made his first start for the Rays that season on July 2 against the Indians, 451 days after his last Major League start.

Moore went 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA in six starts before being optioned to Triple-A Durham. He returned to the Rays for the final month of the season and went 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA while Tampa Bay went 4-2 in those six starts.

Pitching well in those final six starts and no longer having to go through the rigors of rehab opened the door for Moore to partake in the kind of offseason reserved for healthy Major Leaguers.

That translated to doing what he wanted until the middle of November, "then I got after it, getting ready for the [2016] season," Moore said.

With the first workout for pitchers and catchers scheduled for Sunday, Moore's goal is to build himself up for a season in which he can give the Rays a solid effort every five days. Consistency is his mantra.

"It's all about rolling [quality starts] out back to back, getting on a good streak where you can roll off six or seven," Moore said. "That's the next step. ... I'm not going in with necessarily something to prove, but I know who I am, and I know what I'm capable of doing. So I'm going to expect things from myself."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.