August 21, 2010
By David Driver
For the Tyler Paper
Used with permission
BALTIMORE -- Mineola High School graduate and Seattle catcher Adam Moore sat in front of his locker Wednesday at Camden Yards, wearing game pants and a blue T-shirt from the rescue department in Peoria, Ill.
The shirt was a "joke" gift of sorts from Mike Sweeney, a big league veteran who played for Seattle last year. But this has hardly been a season of laughter for the Mariners, who were 48-73 and 19 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West entering Friday's contests.
Seattle fired manager Don Wakamatsu earlier this month and replaced him with Daren Brown, the former manager for Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League.
"He was a great manager. I have nothing but good things to say about him," Moore said of Wakamatsu before Wednesday's game against the Baltimore Orioles. "He was an ex-catcher. He worked with me. Brown was my Triple-A manager. We have a good relationship as well. It really wasn't a big change for me, speaking out loud for myself. I think it was a good change for me and I will go from there."
Moore, 26, the catcher of the future for Seattle, has had his own challenges this season. The Longview native and Mineola resident suffered a leg injury in May in a home game against Tampa Bay. He then did a rehab assignment at Tacoma that lasted until his last game with the team on Aug. 1. In 36 games in the minors he had 43 hits in 134 at bats (.321) with three homers and 15 RBIs.
SEATTLE MARINERS catcher Adam Moore, a Mineola High School graduate, talks with pitcher Sean White during Monday’s game in Baltimore. With Moore’s help, the Seattle pitching staff has the fourth-best ERA in the American League — 3.89 entering Friday’s games. — AP Photo By Gail Burton
"I got my swing back at Triple A. I have a lot more confidence. I knew it would be a matter of time," said Moore, who had four hits Monday against the Orioles. "It does not take away from my defense, not at all. I know I can hit. It is going to take some time."
Moore hit 22 homers in the Class A California League in 2007 then hit .319 with 14 homers the next season at Class AA with West Tenn in the Southern League. Last year he hit 13 homers with stops in West Tenn, Tacoma and Seattle.
But this season, in his first 31 games with Seattle, he was 20 for 101 (.198) with three homers and seven RBI's going into Friday's game in New York against the Yankees.
"I have no excuses with how my offense has been this year," said Moore, who doesn't blame his defensive workload as a rookie catcher.
The throwing ability of Moore, the big league rookie, is getting around. Brian Roberts, a top running threat for the Orioles, was impressed after he was gunned down by Moore during a series in Baltimore.
"I am done with Adam Moore," said Roberts, with a laugh, on a Baltimore radio station. "He threw a bullet to second base."
Seattle pitcher Garrett Olson said he can see marked improvement in Moore's defense from last September to this year.
"In one year I have seen a huge difference," Olson said. "He calls a very good game. He has a great target. He throws the ball very well. He has done very well."
Olson points out that Moore has had to catch Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, who won 19 games last year and was second in the Cy Young Award voting.
"He is difficult to catch. They are all plus pitches that he throws," Olson said.
Moore made his big league debut last September when he caught 14 innings against the White Sox, the most innings by a catcher in his first big league game since 1954.
"It was awesome. I was able to catch pretty much everyone on the staff," he said. "That was something special, to catch 14 innings in your debut. It was a lot of fun. I was comfortable coming into this season. It felt like another day at the ballpark. In spring training I got to meet all of the guys."
Moore has worked for several years on his defense with Roger Hansen, who is the bench coach for the Mariners this season. "You name it; he and I have been doing that. I am trying to get better every day," said Moore, who began working with Hansen in 2006 when he made his minor league debut. "I have a very good relationship with him. We continue to work on things. We communicate well together."
The Texas-Arlington product also gives a lot of credit to Seattle catcher Josh Bard, a big league veteran who turned pro in 1999. "He has helped me out a lot. He could be bitter," said Moore, who added that is not the case. "He helps me out every way he can. He has been around for a long time."
So what are Moore's goals for the final weeks of the season? "Finish strong and continue to work this pitching staff and get as many wins out of them as we can, and finish strong offensively," Moore said. "I want to finish strong and go into spring training having earned this (starting) job or go into spring training and win the job. That is my mindset."