Mariners catcher Adam Moore is healthy, ready to resume career
Adam Moore, coming off a knee injury that wiped out his 2011 season, is playing in the Arizona Fall League. He worked with Ted Simmons, who told him he needs to work on his defensive game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners catcher Adam Moore is using his time here to get the physical part of his game back to where it needs to be.
Moore, who missed all but one week of the 2011 season after injuring his right knee, has caught five nine-inning games in Arizona Fall League play. So far, the knee has held up, though Moore says his timing at the plate is taking a while to return.
But just as important as the physical improvements, Moore, 27, is doing some work on the mental side as well. He's spent extensive time with Mariners special assistant and former major-league catcher Ted Simmons and got an earful on what it will take to truly jump-start his career.
"He's a great guy," said Moore, slated to catch nine more innings for the Peoria Javelinas on Friday. "It's really just an honor to actually get to work with guys like that. His past and what he's done. He's put up great numbers. I told my dad I was working with him. He grew up watching him play and catch. He's an intense guy, and he knows his stuff."
Moore and Simmons went over catching stances and throwing and blocking techniques. But Simmons, who has since returned to Seattle, said the real purpose of his visit was to get inside Moore's head and deliver a message.
"He's at a point in his life where he wants his career to begin," Simmons said. "And he's probably at the point where he feels his career is getting away."
Simmons said he pointed out that Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Henry Blanco is still playing at age 40 after becoming a regular big-leaguer at roughly the same age Moore currently is, back in 1999. And he told Moore that, based on that, he might want to consider that his own career is just beginning.
"But there's a reason Blanco has lasted so long," Simmons added. "I told him, 'If you're not willing to commit yourself defensively first, you'll never get anybody to trust you when you go back there to catch a ballgame.' "
Simmons said it's more important for Moore to become a strong defensive catcher than it is for him to hit. He noted that Moore posted strong minor-league numbers at the plate and that they should eventually follow in the big leagues.
But it will all mean nothing, Simmons said, unless Moore shows pitchers and fielders he can command a game behind home plate. He cited the case of Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, who — despite a power bat — was traded by the Angels because they didn't think he'd ever be a good enough defender to warrant keeping him over Jeff Mathis.
"So, I told him, 'That's up to you,' " Simmons said. " 'You're in a position — catching — where nobody has it and everybody wants it. So, how long will it take you to convince everybody on that field?' "
Moore felt he was on his way to showing something to teammates and a new coaching staff when he made the Mariners last year following a strong spring. Seattle had signed Miguel Olivo to a two-year deal before camp because, in part, they feared their pitchers lacked confidence in Moore.
But then came the severe meniscus tear in his right knee in the second series of the season at Texas. Moore knew right away he'd hurt himself badly and says the team doctor initially thought he'd torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
Moore would come to Safeco Field around 1 p.m. every day, then do "seven or eight hours" of rehabilitation with ankle weights and other tools for the first four or five months.
He also went on a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet because he feared putting on too much weight.
"It was tough," he said. "But it was well worth it."
Moore resumed full baseball workouts by late August, moving onto the final stage of blocking pitches in the dirt. He now says the knee is strong, with "no squeaks" when he crouches.
The Mariners plan to have Moore play winter ball in either Venezuela or the Dominican Republic when he's done in Arizona. By then, he hopes to have his timing at the plate back.
Moore went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his most recent appearance Tuesday and fell to 3 for 19 overall. But the hitting, as Simmons said, is really secondary for now as the Mariners wait for Moore to become the catcher they'd once hoped he could be.
His ability to show he's healthy again could pre-empt the team from seeking additional catching help for Olivo.
"I've got to come back healthy, have a good winter this year and come back and compete for a job in camp," Moore said. "Nothing is set in stone. You always feel like you've got to prove something to people. All eyes are on you. That's what it feels like as a player. You've got to show them you belong."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!