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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Rays notes: Maddon remains confident in Moore

BOSTON - LHP Matt Moore had questions for manager Joe Maddon when they met Sunday morning, a little more than 12 hours after Moore was pulled during the third inning of his start against the Blue Jays. One of them was, Why did you take me out of the game so early? "It was more him wanting me to know in that particular situation what he was thinking, so that way it wasn't a confidence-type of thing. It was more a see and react type of thing for him," Moore said. "It was a good meeting." Maddon told Moore he still has confidence in the rookie left-hander, who will make his next start Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago. Moore was slated to started Friday had the Rays rotation remained in order, but Moore was pushed back a day to give him a little more rest.
"I wanted to reinforce the confidence I have in him now and in the future," Maddon said. "I think he's going to be an excellent major league pitcher." Moore has turned in his shortest outing of his big league career in each of his last three starts. It began with a four-inning effort in Baltimore, which came after ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk demonstrated on air how Moore was tipping his fastball. Moore said that was in his head when he faced the Orioles, but it hasn't been an issue since. Maddon said it should have never been an issue. "I don't even care if he tells them in advance what's coming," Maddon said. "He can actually stand on the mound and say, 'Here comes my fastball,' and I still think he can be successful, I really do. All this stuff is way over blown. I want him to stop thinking about that." Moore said he appreciated the vote of confidence from his manager, and Maddon said he appreciated how a young pitcher could be so forthcoming in a meeting. "I understand the last few (starts) were pretty ugly," Moore said, "but I still feel good about this next one coming up regardless. The opportunity is still there." Molina leaves with injury C Jose Molina moved to within one game of both his career-high in games played (100) and games caught (81) in a single season with Tuesday's start but left the game in the sixth inning with an injury sustained will running out an RBI single. Molina, 37, played in a career-high 17th straight game Tuesday, with 10 of those being starts. The reason is because Maddon likes Molina starting against right-handed pitchers (he's hitting .229 vs. righties as opposed to .170 against lefties). In games in which Molina doesn't start, Maddon likes to use him as a late-inning defensive replacement. "I think he's kind of fresh right now," Maddon said before the game. "The weather's been good. He's been playing inside at our place where the weather is always good. I think he's playing his best ball of the year. … He's held up well." Molina has trouble blocking balls in the dirt, but Maddon said he is good at getting strikes called on pitches outside the strike zone and his throwing has improved. Molina is batting .325 this month, including .382 with three home runs and nine RBI during his consecutive-game streak. Noteworthy RHP Jeff Niemann's throwing session Tuesday including pitching off a flat ground. "Progress," he said … OF Sam Fuld took on-field batting practice before the game … The rotation for the White Sox series is now RHP James Shields, Hellickson, Moore and LHP David Price … 1B Carlos Peña raised his average to .200 with his first inning single Tuesday. It was the first time since July 8 it was above .199 … The Red Sox celebrated the eighth anniversary of the 2004 World Series champions prior to Tuesday's game. They will celebrate the all-Fenway Park team tonight.

- Roger Mooney

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