TAMPA, Fla. -- On Thursday, Rich Dubee said he wasn't looking at numbers. Whoever wins the fifth starter's job doesn't have to be the person with the lowest spring ERA. And one or two Grapefruit League starts won't make or break it.
Of course not.
But after watching what Jamie Moyer did to the Yankees on Friday night, Dubee had to be pleased. (He didn't speak to reporters after the game.) It was 6 2/3 innings and 79 pitches -- and in Moyer's 23-year career there have been thousands and thousands of those.
The 47-year-old Moyer wouldn't let on afterward, but those 79 pitches were a bit more special than others. As Moyer trotted off the mound in the seventh inning, he slapped his glove with his left hand. The Phillies fans in Tampa cheered as he came off and he briefly tipped his cap.
"I’ve proven to myself that I’m healthy," Moyer said.
In reaching this point, Moyer has overcome a significant amount since the end of the 2009 season. He had three off-season surgeries. He had another stay in the hospital with a blood infection. Remember, we're talking about a 47-year-old man having three surgeries within the span of three months.
"I didn’t have any preconceived notion of where I would be," Moyer said.
The interesting part is that Moyer praised the Phillies for letting him go about his own pace at the start of camp. He said the team allowed him to back off doing some drills early in the spring and basically let him set his own routine. It was "hugely beneficial," Moyer said. Instead of jumping right in and risking a setback that could put him behind everyone else, Moyer said he worked toward making slow progress.
"I’ve never felt at any time there was urgency to do anything," Moyer said. "Or prove anything. Or work out in a certain way. You just try and monitor every day for what it is and take it from there."
And because of that, Moyer has proven he's healthy. So in all certainty, he will begin the season as the fifth starter. It was his job to lose and he hasn't lost it yet.
When Moyer was hospitalized over Thanksgiving, he said he never allowed himself to think his career could be over. He'd wait to make that decision.
"You know what?" Moyer said. "If I come to spring training and I couldn’t do it, then I couldn’t do it."
For now, he can still do it.