Rich Hofmann: Moyer does his job well for Phillies

Jamie Moyer is congratulated by third-base coach Sam Perlozzo after pitching six scoreless innings.
Jamie Moyer is congratulated by third-base coach Sam Perlozzo after pitching six scoreless innings.
Posted: August 19, 2009

'IF I GOT A CALL in the

middle of the night and somebody said they wanted [me] to come pitch, I'd think I'd probably be able to figure out a way to do it," Jamie Moyer said, after it was over. But this call came earlier. The skies had opened in the third inning and, at some point during the delay, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee sent word that this would be Moyer's night after all.

The call came, and Moyer began by stretching in the bullpen, his new home. Most fans in the ballpark could not see him. The grounds crew was still removing the tarp, and people were making their way back to their seats. They did not know that Pedro Martinez was not coming back to pitch after a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay. They were not aware of the little bit of a morality play that was about to commence.

Because now it was Moyer's job to pick up where the man who replaced him had left off.

He gave up a soft single to Arizona's Ryan Roberts, the first hitter he faced, and then retired the next 11 Diamondbacks in a row. The guy who we were told for weeks wasn't suited for the bullpen - you know, before they put him in the bullpen - pitched six scoreless innings, gave up only two hits, and got the win in a 5-1 Phillies victory.

Oh, and he got two hits.

It had been 9 days since the 46-year-old last pitched. It had been 7 days since he last spoke with reporters. That day in Chicago, he acknowledged being "disheartened" by his demotion to the bullpen (the expected reaction) and added that he felt as if he had been "misled" by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and club president David Montgomery during the offseason (which was entirely unexpected).

Some questioned Moyer's right to speak his mind, which is absurd; right or wrong about the "misled" part, or about whether a 5.47 ERA effectively released the club from any previous vows, or whether emotion was clouding reason, there was no crime in expressing his true feelings.

Some wondered whether he would somehow divide the team, another absurdity. And as for the fans, well, it was raining again at 9:12 p.m. when public-address announcer Dan Baker said, "Now pitching for the Phillies, No. 50, Jamie Moyer." The reception from the crowd was warm and seemingly unanimous.

For his part, Moyer cannot hide his feeling. Last night, he said he didn't want to talk about any of the drama.

How tough has the last week been?

"I'd rather just talk about the game," he said.

Are you preparing to pitch every day? Every 3 days? What?

"I'd rather just talk about the game," he said.

No chip on your shoulder?

"No," Moyer said. "I pitched to get to the end of the game, to try to save the bullpen. There's still a lot of baseball to play."

Moyer had been sitting in the bullpen for much of the last week, but manager Charlie Manuel had never found a spot to use him. Now, here we were. The rain in the bottom of the third inning had ended Martinez' night, and three runs scored by the Phillies right after the resumption had given Pedro the 3-1 lead in absentia.

Now came Moyer, with the task of proving he could still help this team in a completely different role.

"I just went out and threw strikes and tried to get them to put the ball in play and pretty much relied on my defense," he said.

Asked later whether he had any sense coming in from the bullpen that he would be sharp, Moyer said he didn't. Asked whether he had any sense about when he might be able to pitch again, Moyer said he didn't.

"I think you've got to come to the ballpark and try to prepare each and every day," he said. "Taking on a new role, I think you've got to be prepared the best you can. Probably the last time I've done this is somewhere around 13 years ago. It's somewhat new - it's not like it happened last year or 2 years ago, and I don't know how my body's going to react to it. I'll see how I feel tomorrow and come back and try to create a new plan for tomorrow."

Nothing has changed here. This was one night and all of the existing dynamics remain in place.

Remember: Only four of Moyer's 22 starts lasted longer than last night's six innings of relief.

The Phillies still owe it to themselves to find out about Martinez - it just makes sense for the baseball team. That journey must continue, because we still don't know, even as we continue to find out new things about the 46-year-old. *

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