In the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s St. Louis Cardinals spring training game at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium, pinch-hitter Scott Moore had what could be called a veteran at-bat.
With the bases loaded and one out, he faced veteran Miami Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos. Hopping on the first offering, Moore pulled the ball deep into the right field corner, as the tying run came home easily. The lead run would have scored as well, but the runner off second base had to hesitate to ensure Moore’s ball was not caught and was thrown out at the plate.
It was the 31-year-old’s team-leading fifth double and fourth RBI of the spring, his second campaign with the Cardinals organization as a non-roster invitee. In 41 Grapefruit League at-bats, the left-handed hitter’s line is .244/.262/.439/.701. Moore has homered once, scored six times, but walked just once compared to a team-high 14 strikeouts (tied with Mark Reynolds).
Though any realistic chances of Moore making the big league roster were entirely dependent on the health of Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams and Reynolds, the third baseman has still received the second-most spring at-bats of any player not expected to make the team. It is clear that manager Mike Matheny wants to keep his regulars fresh for the season and Moore has been happy to accept the additional time on the big-league stage.
In the bigger picture, the eighth overall selection in the 2002 draft by the Detroit Tigers is also pleased to stay a while with the Cardinals after having played for seven different organizations over his 13-year professional career. That includes the equivalent of one season, 152 games, in the Major Leagues. The time was spread over five years, however, with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and most recently, the 2012 Houston Astros.
When we spoke the other day, it was a bit awkward initially. I wanted to discuss Memphis and his leadership role as the lone true journeyman on a team consisting almost exclusively of Cardinals home-grown talent, but there was a rub. On paper, Moore was still in the competition for a big league job.
Once we got past that, it was a very enjoyable interview. Moore explained why he re-upped with the Cardinals before even officially reaching free agency last fall, his role as a veteran leader in Triple-A and even the adjustments he is trying to make to his swing.
No longer prospects in the traditional sense, aged 30-something players like Moore still have considerable value to an organization, but should be chosen carefully. I am not the first to observe that some former MLB players in Triple-A have a chip on their shoulder, with their belief that they should be back in the majors negatively affecting their attitude.
While Moore remains confident in his abilities as a player, it is clear that he also embraces the opportunity to help others, which is almost certainly one reason he was asked to return for 2015.
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