Great Lakes Give Moore the Cold Shoulder
Weather effects everyone differently. Some players crave the chill factors that dip towards the freezing point while others bundle up tighter almost resembling the Michelin Man as they wrap their bodies in an extra cocoon of thermal goodness with only parts of their face visible. I bet Tampa Bay Rays rookie starter Matt Moore would have loved to resemble the Michelin Man instead of standing on the hill in Comerica Park as the Great Lakes gave their own brand of home-frigid advantage.
The Detroit Tigers pitching staff have become a bit acclimated to the possibilities of a early season revisit of Winter in early April. They have come to relish and welcome the chilly breeze that can potentially make their opposition’s fingers feel frozen at the tips thereby losing a touch of feeling the ball as it leaves your hand thereby hurling the ball more in a “mechanical movement” than by physical touch.
I can definitely see the aspects of a frigid Detroit weather dealing Moore a rude awakening possibly playing into his noticeable control and velocity problems. Moore could only add a few MLB allowable accessories like a thermal undershirt with limited pitching sleeve length, a MLB-issued, not the”Elmer Fudd” style Rays cap with warming ear flaps. Hopefully Moore got a tad of added warmth from a pair of thermal long johns under his uniform. But Moore shunned the Fudd accessory.
But even with these heating elements, the temperature game can get into your head quickly and will not leave, even with a bit of warmth while sitting in the dugout. This type of weather definitely plays with your mind both physically and mentally. It can quickly take a bite of your planned mode of attack, especially if you are thinking more about the chilling wind whipping past your skin and not the hitter standing warm in the batter’s box.
When temperatures begin to sit around in the 40′s, the slightest increase in wind can cut across your exposed face like a sharp knife, effectively taking you out of your game mode and you subconsciously begin to think about the chills, the aches, the feeling of muscle tightening even as you await the signs from your catcher and you might begin to worry a bit more about your fingertips circulation. That can lead to throwing the ball instead of pitching it to the plate as the fingertips lose a bit of feeling and you begin to lose a bit of control or velocity for fear of giving up a Home Run or possibly hitting a batter.
Not sure if this happened to Moore, but if it did, it would explain a lot of what happened to him during his daytime start on Tuesday. It has happened to many a ballplayer before Moore, and will happen to plenty in the future. It is just a facet of the game that rears its head this time of the year in the Northern core cities and you have to adjust to it or it overtakes you and you make costly mistakes. I know from just watching Moore face during the game on camera, his mind did flutter back and forth a few times, possibly after a chill went up his pant leg or up his exposed arm. But he hung in there, grinned and wore it like a trooper and got valuable knowledge for the future.
It was also Moore’s first start of the season, and there is nothing to worry about, he overcame the plight and will be eager for his next time to take the mound. The factors of Moore’s abnormal start could have been a mixture of the chills, the anxious nature of his first 2012 start, or just an unfortunate blip due to weather on Moore’s radar.
Whatever the case, it is past, Moore is healthy and we move on to warmer venues for his next start…hopefully. When you hold Spring Training in areas with the core temperatures switching between 60-80 degrees, then add the factor that you play your home contests in 72 degree splendor, biting lower temps have a way of getting into your mindset, even when you sit on the bench wrapped like an MLB mummy between innings.
Chalk this up as a “needed” experience that Moore can put into his memory banks and use as fodder to prep for if the same scenario rises in the future. No amount of coffee, hot chocolate or heated Gatorade can overcome the rips of icy wind that cross your face while you are standing alone on the hill. It is a part of the game that is older than all of us, and will dictate game outcomes long after we leave this Earth.
Moore will be fine, I think he has banked and processed the moment and is more than ready to face the aspects of playing during extreme temperature differences, possibly hitting the mound with a demeanor as cool as a cucumber next time.