SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Jamie Moyer has a few more gray hairs than most of his teammates and he may have lost a step or two. It’s hard to tell as his eyes light up when talk turns to baseball and, suddenly, he seems as youthful as 22-year-old Tyler Chatwood, who sits on a nearby locker stool listening to the 49-year-old left-hander.
Moyer last pitched with the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2010. He then had ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow and many thought his major league career was over.
Moyer, who was in camp Monday, begs to differ. Calling age a nonfactor, he’s looking to resume his career with the Colorado Rockies, one of a few teams that showed interest.
“It’s nice to come in and try to compete with kids,” Moyer said. “I guess there are guys around here who are half my age. I got myself back into shape and it’s time to get a good assessment of where I am.”
At one point during Monday’s workout, Moyer grabbed his bag and ran to switch drills when a teammate razzed him, “Slow down, old man.”
He really doesn’t mind the good-natured age jokes.
“I’m used to that,” he said with a smile. “I am (old). It is what it is.”
Moyer wants to join a pitching staff which hopes to make a quick transition from chaos to contention. Jhoulys Chacin remains the only healthy member of the rotation that opened the 2011 season with high expectations. Jorge De La Rosa is expected back as early as May and Jeremy Guthrie was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles to fill another spot.
Even manager Jim Tracy knows he can learn a thing or two from Moyer, not to mention the example he can set for the pitching staff.
“I have not met too many guys who have been in the major leagues for a quarter-century,” Tracy said after watching Moyer in Monday’s workout. “It didn’t look like he had surgery. He’s 49 years old. He’s an artist. He didn’t come here to see how many people he could strike out this spring. He came here to get people out.”
Moyer thinks he’s capable of fitting into the rotation.
“Colorado seemed like it was a pretty good fit and a good opportunity,” Moyer said. “I feel my experience will help me. The only thing I’ve not done through surgery is to pitch competitively. I’ve always been competitive. I enjoy it and thrive on it. There’s an opportunity to get some innings and, hopefully, making the club.”
He’s already making a difference in the clubhouse, something he takes seriously. Moyer spent nearly 20 minutes Monday explaining and demonstrating bunting to Chatwood, who pitched for the Los Angeles Angels last year, and Guthrie. The former AL pitchers intently listened.
“I’m not a good hitter,” said Guthrie, who has two doubles and 13 strikeouts in 22 career at-bats. “I have to get ready to bunt, run the bases and to pitch.”
He has a tenured professor in Moyer, who brings 24 years and 260 career victories to the lectern.
“When I look back to the early years of my career, guys like Rick Sutcliffe and Scott Sanderson were willing to share and I remember that,” Moyer said. “I appreciated it and it is my responsibility to pass the baton, share my experiences. I try to bring something to the clubhouse as an individual, the intangibles.”
He should feel welcome in a clubhouse that includes veteran players Todd Helton and Jason Giambi. Moyer is poised to guide a talented, unproven staff that needs to establish an identity.
“It’s not a one-way street,” Moyer said. “I’m always willing to learn and find a way to get better.”
Tracy doesn’t want Moyer to change a thing. In other words, keep throwing 82-83 mph – his soft-tossing style has taken him this far.
“Pat Gillick told me you don’t want it to be any harder than that or they’re going to hit it hard,” Tracy said.
NOTES: Tracy said he met with Chacin, the projected No. 2 starter who trained in Venezuela this winter instead of Arizona as originally planned. “We had a lengthy conversation,” Tracy said. “It was focused on commanding his fastball. I gave him a task to work on and hopefully he’ll master it.”… Carlos Gonzalez’s troublesome right wrist that limited him last year isn’t considered a problem any longer – and it certainly doesn’t look it from seeing him swing. … Tracy said OF Jamie Hoffman won’t be overtaxed this spring after he became ill playing winter ball in Venezuela.
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