Indians' Moss making strides as he recovers from hip surgery
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) As he works on his potent swing, Brandon Moss is also testing his patience this spring.
Acquired in a December trade from Oakland to bring more power to Cleveland's lineup, the All-Star from last season has been making solid progress as he recovers from hip surgery. Both he and the Indians' training staff have been encouraged that he's ahead of schedule.
Moss has taken batting practice this week after early projections he would not be on the field until early March.
''Obviously, they have a timetable and a frame in which they're trying to keep me in to make sure everything goes as planned, but right now I feel outstanding,'' Moss said.
Moss has been at the Indians Player Development Complex rehabbing from the repair of a torn labrum in his right hip, an injury that caused pain every time he swung the bat in 2014. He's working toward more position-specific running. Indians manager Terry Francona said Moss will soon start working in right field.
During batting practice this week, Moss showed off a little bit of his power as he ripped two homers over the right-field wall, shots that drew the attention of teammates and coaches. While it's pleasing to watch baseballs sail into the Arizona sky, Moss is more pleased to swing without pain.
''It has felt amazing,'' he said. ''I was taking some pretty aggressive swings. I'm not going to sit there and baby it. If it's going to bother it, it's going to bother it.''
Needing a bat with some pop, the Indians traded for Moss on Dec. 9, getting him from the Athletics in exchange for minor league infielder Joey Wendle. Over the past three seasons, Moss has averaged a home run per 15.93 at-bats, which is ninth in the majors.
Francona managed Moss in Boston in 2007 and 2008, and told Moss this week not to rush his rehab.
''He was dying to get on the field,'' Francona said. ''He kept telling the trainers, `I'm not going to swing any different in the cage.' We may have to lean on him a little bit, which is OK. I'd rather it be that way.''
Moss delayed having surgery because Oakland was in contention for a postseason spot. He was able to play through the pain the first couple months, batting .268 with 21 homers and 66 RBIs as he made the AL All-Star team for the first time.
But the pain worsened and Moss' production plummeted. He batted just .173 with four home runs and 15 RBIs after the break.
After Oakland lost to Kansas City in the AL wild-card game, Moss wasn't surprised about numerous trades the A's made during the offseason to get younger. He and the rest of the clubhouse knew in late July when Oakland traded Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester that the window to contend was small.
Besides being reunited with Francona, Moss is also on the same team with his best friend, Indians outfielder David Murphy. Both came up through the Red Sox organization and have played together at every level of pro ball except the majors.
Playing at Progressive Field 81 times a year should help Moss. Over the past three seasons, Moss has hit 42 points higher on the road. He had a .232/.317/.459 slash line at home compared to .274/.361/.544 in road games. During his career, Moss has a .324 average (11 for 34) with two home runs and 10 RBIs at Progressive Field.
''I've got a great opportunity here with this team,'' he said. ''You talk about a good core group of guys, this team has it, and it's a team that is trending in the right direction. There's a lot of things that I'm very fortunate to be where I am right now.''
NOTES: Team president Mark Shapiro said renovations at Progressive Field are generally on schedule for the April 10 home opener despite freezing weather in Cleveland. ... The Indians completed their workouts early Friday so players and staff could play in an annual charity golf outing with the Reds. On Saturday, Cleveland's pitchers will throw live batting practice for the first time.