03/31/12 1:10 AM ET
At 49, Moyer is No. 2 in Rockies' rotation
Tracy tabs veteran left-hander to pitch April 7 at Houston
By AJ Cassavell / Special to MLB.com
Rockies manager Jim Tracy announced on Friday that Moyer will be in the club's starting rotation when the season begins next week. And he'll be the No. 2 starter, no less.
On April 7 in Houston, the veteran left-hander will make his first start with Colorado -- a club that wasn't in existence when Moyer made his debut on June 16, 1986, against his idol Steve Carlton. Should he pick up the win, Moyer would be the oldest pitcher to ever record a Major League victory.
The crafty baby-boomer, who is 35th all time with 267 wins, pulled off yet another improbable victory this spring by making the club. Moyer sat out last season because of Tommy John surgery and signed with the Rockies in January on a Minor League deal.
"I've learned to appreciate things a little bit more and understand things a little bit more without trying to get too sentimental or too deep into it," Moyer said. "I'm just really appreciating the opportunity that I've been given."
Moyer made Tracy's decision relatively easy, outpitching Guillermo Moscoso and Tyler Chatwood, his competition this spring for the final spot. Moyer is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four Cactus League appearances -- three starts. His best outing was on March 22 -- four perfect innings against the Giants.
Given the gaudy numbers, many assumed Moyer had nailed down his spot much earlier, but Tracy wanted to make sure Moyer still felt fine when his pitch count started approaching the 90s. After Moyer threw 89 in his last outing and emerged the next day with nothing but "normal stiffness," that sealed the deal for Tracy.
He let Moyer know on Friday afternoon, and Moyer responded with, "thank you," causing Tracy to interject.
"I stopped him right there, and I said 'thank you' is not necessary because we don't give out handouts here," Tracy said.
Moyer has reiterated that his comeback hasn't been motivated by personal reasons. He wants to help the Rockies recover from a fourth-place finish in the National League West last season, and he wants to find a niche among his teammates.
"I want to contribute here," Moyer said. "To me that's what it's about -- contributing on the field and contributing in the clubhouse."
As for why Moyer will start the second game, Tracy said he wants to make sure his bullpen is protected should Moyer not make it deep into the start. Moyer only lasted four innings his last time out -- the only time he really labored this spring.
It also doesn't hurt that Moyer, a lefty whose fastball hits 80 mph on a good night, will be surrounded by a pair of hard-throwing righties, Jeremy Guthrie and Juan Nicasio.
"It can help with opposing teams," Moyer said. "I've been in that situation before. Obviously being the softer guy in pretty much every organization I've been in, there's some validity to that. But you still have to go out there and pitch."
Even though Moyer still has another spring start remaining, Tracy was confident enough with what he's seen to make a final decision. Moyer will get the ball next on April 2 against Seattle, and said he isn't sure whether his workload will be toned down in preparation for his regular-season debut.
"I have been completely intrigued by what I've seen unfold," Tracy said of Moyer's spring. "He is still Jamie Moyer. He's the Jamie Moyer that was pitching prior to the arm injury."
Moyer boasts a career 4.24 ERA, a 267-204 record and 2,405 strikeouts. He pitched with seven clubs before signing with Colorado, starting his career with the Cubs when Ronald Reagan was president and Tom Cruise was starring in "Top Gun."
Moyer was asked how he would've responded had someone told him in 1986 that he'd still be on a big league mound 26 years later.
"I hope I am, but I don't think I would have believed in 1986 that it would be realistic," Moyer said, before noting that watching Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough pitch into their 40s made him realize there was potential he could do the same.
Moyer has reiterated that age is just a number, and he's backed it up with his statistics this spring. He is adamant that he hasn't given a thought to any records he might be breaking.
"I intend to win more than one game," Moyer kidded after his last start when asked about becoming the oldest pitcher to get a victory [Jack Quinn holds the current record at 49 years, 74 days in a win with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932].
Moyer spent the biggest portion of his career with Seattle -- 11 seasons -- before he went to Philadelphia in 2006. Moyer pitched there for five seasons, winning his lone World Series in '08.
Then, in November 2010, he suffered a recurrence of a serious elbow injury while pitching in the Dominican Winter League. It seemed likely to end his career.
"You just never know," Moyer said. "As long as you try to battle through things and work through things and take the right mindset, you just never know."
With Moyer, it seems we really never do.
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.