With just over 286 innings pitched, Peter Moylan’s major-league career can be condensed into a just a few seasons worth of solid work.
And he’s been pretty darned good during those 286 innings, compiling a 2.83 earned-run average with opposing hitters batting just .239 against him.
Unfortunately, those 286 innings have been scattered over a decade. Twice his career has been interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he has pitched only 39 innings in the majors since the end of the 2010 season.
“At times I look back and think about what could’ve been,” said Moylan, 37. “But at the same time I’m still here, I’m still fighting for the goal, and it’s not like I’m done.”
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Moylan is a non-roster invitee in the Royals’ spring training camp and one of the oldest players there. He understands his chances of making the big-league roster are slim.
But that’s not holding him back. First, he has to make the Royals notice he can still get batters out.
“It will take almost a flawless spring, I would have to imagine,” Moylan said of his chances. “But it’s more than that. It’s that you’ve got to come in here with the right attitude. You’ve got to make yourself known. You’ve got to be at the front of people’s minds.”
Most players with Moylan’s history would have been long forgotten by now.
He made his major-league debut in 2006 with Atlanta and then broke out in 2007, pitching 90 innings of 1.80-ERA ball for the Braves.
Then came 2008 came and the first of many medical issues for Moylan, a submarine-throwing right-handed pitcher, as he underwent his first Tommy John procedure.
He returned more quickly than expected and had a pair of strong seasons for the Braves in 2009 and 2010. But back and shoulder injuries derailed his career with the Braves and the second Tommy John surgery followed in 2014 after he appeared in 14 games with the Dodgers in 2013.
Moylan returned to the Braves and appeared in 22 games last season, accumulating just 10 1/3 innings.
He knows not much is expected of him. The Royals have a well-stocked bullpen and Moylan hasn’t pitched particularly well in his most recent big-league appearances. But he believes he can still get the job done.
“Expectations are one thing,” Moylan said. “I like to go on what my personal goals are, and you can’t come into camp without having a goal of trying to make the team.
“You look around and realize that it’s going to be a tough fight, but if I had any other mindset but that, then I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors. So, expectations are expectations, but my goals are to make the team.”
Now almost two years removed from his latest surgery, Moylan is characteristically tongue-in-cheek about his health.
“I’ve been able to stay healthy for about 18 straight months now, so it feels really good,” Moylan said, laughing. “I know it doesn’t seem like a long time, but for me it’s an eternity.
“I feel like I’ve learned what it takes to keep (myself) on the field, and it’s working so far. The medical staff here has been fantastic as far as what they expect from me. They know I’m not the youngest guy around here, so they’re not going to try to kill me, but it’s been really good so far.”
Moylan’s chances of making the club remain up in the air, but there’s little doubt he’s a good player to have in camp for the Royals. He spent his time rehabbing from his most recent surgery as a player-coach in the Braves minor league system.
“I try to set an example, whatever it is I’m doing,” Moylan said. “I’m a guy who likes to have a lot of fun, but when it comes to doing a drill, I like to do it right. And if I make a mistake, I’ll make sure I do it right before I stop.”
At least for now, Moylan is hoping the time to stop hasn’t arrived.
Cuyler Meade is a senior in Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.