Moyer not acting his age

Still going in his 22nd season in the major leagues, Phillies left-hander says being 45 years old 'not an issue'

October 25, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

PHILADELPHIA - Jamie Moyer has been around major league baseball so long that even the talk about his age has gotten old.

"The age thing, it's not an issue," said Moyer, the Philadelphia Phillies' 45-year-old left-hander and former Oriole who tonight will become the second-oldest player to start or play in a World Series game when he takes the mound, weather permitting, against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3.

"It's been around for a while with me, and I think I am kind of over it because I have been around a lot of younger players," Moyer said. "Some [players weren't] born yet when I was in the major leagues. It's kind of weird to think about."

Moyer, who turns 46 next month, made his big league debut June 16, 1986, with the Chicago Cubs. Ace Cole Hamels, his Phillies rotation mate, was 2 at the time. Tampa Bay Rays third base phenom Evan Longoria was 8 months old. Even baseball's old guys seem spry in comparison with Moyer.

"It's incredible. I'm 35; that gives me a ton of time," Rays designated hitter Cliff Floyd joked. "You have to really take care of your body, really take care of yourself. I commend him for that."

How long has the soft-tossing Moyer been around the majors? He was part of the 1988 trade that sent Rafael Palmeiro from the Cubs to the Texas Rangers.

"When I played in Texas, I had two teammates, Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough, that were in their 40s, and I respected who they were and what they did in their careers," Moyer said. "And now I've kind of come full circle with it."

Moyer was a journeyman, having bounced around four organizations, when the Orioles signed him in December 1992. He pitched three seasons in Baltimore, making 66 starts and compiling a 25-22 record with a 4.41 ERA.

The Orioles decided not to re-sign him after the 1995 season, a move that didn't make a ripple within the organization. (Coincidentally, it was current Phillies general manager Pat Gillick who, as the new GM in Baltimore, didn't bring Moyer back that year. In 2006, Gillick traded two minor leaguers to get Moyer to Philadelphia.)

Moyer said he has always been overlooked, and that's OK with him.

"Junior high, high school, college, it was always, 'You're too small,' " said Moyer, who is 6 feet, 185 pounds. "I was always told the things I couldn't do. But for me it kind of fueled the fire, not knowing where it would take me."

Starting in 1996 - splitting time between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners that season - Moyer began an eight-year streak of winning 13 or more games, including two seasons in which he won 20 or more.

This year, he led the Phillies with 16 regular-season wins and reached 246 for his career - impressive for someone whose best fastball wouldn't be ticketed on Interstate 95. He succeeds by locating all of his pitches, changing speeds (from slow to slower) and outthinking aggressive, off-balance hitters.

"He is very smart. He thinks two pitches ahead, whereas as a hitter you are thinking one," Phillies veteran outfielder Matt Stairs said. "He's the type of guy that knows his location has to be on. And I imagine he is going to be pretty fired up [today]."

It'll be the first time in his 22-year career that he has pitched in a World Series, and Moyer will be doing it for the club he rooted for while growing up in Souderton, Pa., roughly an hour's drive from Philadelphia.

"It's very special to have the opportunity to, No. 1, just be in the World Series. But to have it be in the city that you grew up in, more or less ... is very special," Moyer said. "And on top of it to get the start for Game 3 is something that I've been dreaming about for my whole life."

The only player older than Moyer to appear in a World Series is the Philadelphia Athletics' Jack Quinn, who started Game 4 in 1929 at age 46 and pitched again in relief in the 1930 World Series at 47.

Moyer could become the oldest pitcher to win a World Series game. But so far this postseason, he is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts. In his lone National League Championship Series appearance, the Los Angeles Dodgers tagged him for six runs in 1 1/3 innings.

"Yeah, I feel there's a little emptiness because I don't feel like I contributed to the best of my ability, but that's part of the game," Moyer said. "I tell a lot of these younger guys, learning to deal with failure is big. And I think when you start to deal with it, not necessarily accept it but deal with it, it allows you to move forward quicker. Because there are going to be a lot of ups and downs in this game."

Up or down, Moyer is looking forward to finally experiencing the World Series.

"It's been a long wait," he said. "I'm trying to enjoy this. I'm trying to take it all in, trying to realize where I am."

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