The frequent and sometimes alarming news about Jamie Moyer’s health this winter has led many of his fans to assume that the 47-year-old’s career is winding down. And while that may be the case, Moyer does not see it that way.
Before an event last night at St. Joseph's University, I had the chance to speak with Moyer for the first time since he was hospitalized with a blood infection on Thanksgiving week. He not only made clear that he was ready to compete for a job in the rotation this year, but he would not call 2010 his final season.
“You know, I’m going to leave that as an open-ended question because I don’t know how to answer that,” Moyer said when asked if he expected to retire after this year, when his current contract expires. “It could be (my last season). It potentially could be. But so could have last year. So could have two years ago, so could have five years ago.
“The way I look at it, why limit myself? If I would have limited myself at 29, when I was released for the second or third time, I wouldn’t be playing. That was what, 18 years ago? If I would have believed what they said, you know, ‘take a coaching job, and if something comes up for you with another job you can take it.' If I would have followed that route, I would have never known what these last 18 years would have brought me.”
Whatever happens this season, Moyer is glad to be healthy after a winter that he called “trying.” Five days after Oct. 2 surgery to repair muscle tears in his groin and abdomen, Moyer was first stricken with a blood infection, and spent three nights at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Then, at home in Florida the following month, the pitcher began to feel ill again, losing his appetite and feeling queasy. “In the middle of November, I wasn’t feeling real good,” he said. “It kind of persisted for a few days, so I decided to take a trip to the hospital. I had planned on coming up (to Philadelphia) anyway just to visit the doc, like two days later.”
After having a CT scan at a Florida hospital the day before, Moyer flew north on Nov. 24, and was told by team medical staff that he had an abscess in his left groin.
“They hooked up a drain to it, but it really didn’t drain they way they expected it to,” he said. “So now we’re rolling into Thanksgiving, and doctors make plans or they’re out of town. So they said, ‘why don’t you hang here for a couple days, and we’ll see what’s going on when we get back.’
While his in-laws looked after Moyer’s eight children in Florida, the pitcher and his wife spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. “Things didn’t really get better, so they went back in and cleaned it out thoroughly and it ended up being that I had a staph infection,” he said.
Moyer then began a six-week course of antibiotics, which pushed a scheduled minor knee procedure to January. Though Moyer said that his rehabilitation and workout had gone well since, he did not yet know if his spring training routine would be affected.
“I haven’t really talked about it with the trainers and with (pitching coach Rich Dubee),” he said. “There is plenty of time to talk about it. Right now, I’m doing what I would normally do coming into spring training. I think its going to be a wait-and-see kind of thing.”
Moyer, who was angry with management last August when he was sent to the bullpen in favor of Pedro Martinez, re-iterated his preference to start (Kyle Kendrick will be his chief competition for the job).
“That’s a choice for the club to make,” he said. “I would prefer to start, because I’ve done it my whole career. That’s a no-brainer. But as far as what happens, I don’t think they’re going to ask me.”
More on Moyer in tomorrow’s Inquirer.