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March 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Adam Moore breaks bone in wrist; future with Mariners now as clouded as ever

Mariners catcher Adam Moore had been looking like he might pull a Michael Saunders type of revival this spring. He’d been hitting the ball well and exerting himself behind the plate, looking to have shaken off the knee injury that scuttled all but two games of his 2011 season.
But today, it all came crashing to a halt.
The Mariners announced that Moore had fractured the third metacarpal in his right wrist after blocking a ball in Tuesday’s game against the Reds. Moore actually finished that game, going 2-for-2 with a two-run double to up his spring average to .667 (4-for-6, four runs scored, a double, a homer and three RBI).
But the pain in the wrist persisted post-game and an examination of the wrist yesterday revealed the break. Moore will visit a hand specialist today and have the wrist placed in a cast. The Mariners have yet to announce a timeline for Moore’s recovery, but, as with Franklin Gutierrez, he’s pretty much going to miss most spring training games and will need time to get back into playing shape and all that.
In other words, the first couple of months of his season — wherever that winds up being — are now shot.
What does this mean for Moore’s future with the team?

Moore, like Saunders, is one of only a handful of position player “prospects” remaining from the Bill Bavasi era in Seattle. I hesitate to call him and Saunders prospects, which is why I put that word in quotes, since both have spent time in the majors on and off since 2009. They are too experienced to be considered prospects any more. But too young and inexperienced to be considered regular major leaguers.
They are right on that cusp of going the way other Bavasi prospects have gone — out of the organization. Guys like Matt Tuiasosopo, Mike Morse, Bryan LaHair, Jeff Clement, Wladimir Balentien. Some of them good players, some of them not-so-great. Some of them late-bloomers. It doesn’t matter. All had their chances with Seattle before GM Jack Zduriencik decided they were done in this organization.
Carlos Triunfel is still here, but really, Moore and Saunders are the two biggest names left from Bavasi’s time.
Both have another year of Class AAA options left and that’s where they seemed ticketed when camp opened. But then, Gutierrez went down and Saunders appears to be taking advantage of the door opened for him. We’ll see.
In Moore’s case, he was in tough trying to land another catching job. Miguel Olivo is here as the incumbent and isn’t going anywhere. The team also traded Josh Lueke for John Jaso, so you know that if Moore had any hope of making it as a backup he’d have to go out and show something this spring. Something better than Jaso. He was in the process of trying to do just that when he broke his wrist.
So, on the surface, it would appear that Moore’s career in Seattle, for all intents and purposes, might be done.
But it isn’t officially over just yet. The problem for Moore is that some of his Seattle future is no longer in his own hands.
He’ll likely play in AAA at some point this year and have a limited opportunity to put together some semblance of a season. At least, more than last year.
Olivo’s contract is up after this season and — depending on what he does — the club could pass on his 2013 option. If Olivo has a big year, that option is just $3.75 million and the Mariners could opt to hang on to him.
If that happens and Olivo stays, Moore is done here. He’d have to make the team out of spring training next year and Jaso would still be around.
Jaso also has minor league options and could have been sent to AAA this year if Moore proved that much better. But that’s no longer an issue and you’d have to think that, with much of 2012 to get used to Jaso, the team will want to hang on to him going forward unless he proves a total bust.
So, if Moore were to make the team, you’d think it would be as a second catcher in a tandem with Jaso. The handedness issue plays in Moore’s favor since he bats right and Jaso left. But it would likely be in a starter-backup situation, with Moore the backup.
But then, you have Jesus Montero to consider.
Right now, the Mariners are taking a long look at Montero as a catcher, namely because they have to figure out whether he can play the position or simply be a DH going forward. By this time next year, the team should know plenty and will head into spring training with a realistic idea of what Montero can be.
If they feel he can be a catcher, it would likely be in an everyday role with Jaso as a backup. Again, in that case, Moore would be done in Seattle.
But if Montero can’t cut it behind the plate and is seen strictly as DH material, then Moore would still have a pulse here. After all, there is no reason for the Mariners to cut him loose prior to that point. Moore had a great spring last year before his knee injury early in the regular season and was off to another big start here before again being felled.
This organization has invested a lot of time in Moore — Bavasi era prospect or not — and would be foolish to cut him loose if he still had a chance to add to the ballclub.
But those chances are running out. Moore has just seen his evaporate this spring and now has to hope there will be one more waiting for him a year from now. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely in his hands any more. The best he can do now is try to salvage something from 2012 when healthy again and stay in the picture for 2013.
No matter what happens, it’s safe to say his future with the Mariners is now as cloudy as it’s ever been.

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero


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