PORT CHARLOTTE — Tampa Bay Rays LHP Matt Moore reached back to his past this winter in an effort to put a little more oomph on his fastball this summer.
Moore spent three months during the offseason training at Pro Advantage Training System in Tempe, Ariz., working with Keith Wilson. Moore trained with Wilson prior to the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Last offseason, Moore remained in the Tampa Bay area and used variations of Wilson’s program. Despite winning 17 games and being named to his first All-Star team, Moore suffered soreness in his elbow and saw his velocity drop from 97-98 mph to 95-96.
“You get away with a little bit more mistakes,” Moore said of the added velocity. “For me, physically, if I’m pitching at that level, it means I’m healthy elsewhere.”
Moore threw his first bullpen Sunday and said everything felt fine.
Last spring was the first time during his pro career that he wasn’t trying to make a team because he knew his spot in the rotation was solidified.
Maybe because of that mindset, Moore said he didn’t feel as ready as he had in the past to begin the season. He thinks that might have led to the drop in velocity and the injury.
So, he rented a place in North Scottsdale and worked out five days a week from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a handful of other major-leaguers.
“The plan was to go out there and make sure that this year there’s as little chance as possible for something like what happened last year to my elbow happens again,” he said. “I went back to where I had success. … It was a very good winter for us.”
Good first impressions: Manager Joe Maddon was impressed with the bullpens thrown Sunday by RHP Matt Andriese and RHP Steve Geltz.
“You can see the live arm right there,” Maddon said of Andriese, who came to the Rays from San Diego in the Alex Torres trade.
Geltz pitched 67 innings over 41 appearances last year at Triple-A Durham. He struck out 80 and walked 24.
“You look at Geltz’s numbers, this kid had a nice year for us last year in the minor leagues,” Maddon said. “That was interesting to see.”
More good impressions:Maddon spent much of Sunday’s bullpen session watching the technique of the catchers.
He came away impressed with Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Mayo Acosta.
Casali reached Double-A Montgomery in 2013. Maile played for Class A Bowling Green. Acosta played for Montgomery.
The Rays are thin at catcher at the upper levels as far as major-league experience, but Maddon said there is talent. He noticed that from reading the reports prior to the individual meetings with the catchers on Saturday.
“The common thread was good receiver, throws well, high-percentage throwing out runners, works well with the pitching staff. Then there were a couple offensive guys, too, who did some really good offensive work,” Maddon said.
Casali hit .383 in 120 at-bats with Montgomery, while Maile bit .283 during his season at Bowling Green.
Welcome back: OFs Wil Myers, Matt Joyce and Mikie Mahtook, and INF/OF Sean Rodriguez reported to camp Sunday.
Rodriguez and his wife, Giselle, are expecting their fourth child, a girl, on April 10.
Meanwhile, RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval have yet to report because of visa issues.