Matt Moore to pitch rehab start, eyes September return

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Matt Moore’s time on the disabled list could be nearing an end.

Moore will throw a bullpen session Monday before making a minor-league rehab start Thursday in a location to be named later, Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Moore awoke Sunday with what he called “normal soreness” in his left arm after he threw about 50 pitches in a three-inning simulated game Saturday at Tropicana Field.

“I feel good,” Moore said Sunday. “Just normal soreness. I feel like my chest and my back — that area, the (rotator) cuff — it gets normally sore. Normal soreness today so far.”

If all goes well this week, the Rays could see Moore return Sept. 3, which would be the second game of the Rays’ four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.

Moore, who is 14-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 21 starts this season, left a start against the New York Yankees on July 28 after five innings with left elbow soreness. Before then, he had become one of the most reliable arms on Tampa Bay’s staff, enough so that he was named to his first All-Star Game in July.

Moore had said that he would lobby to return to the rotation sometime this week. But Maddon said Moore accepted the plan without resistance.

“He did not,” Maddon said, when asked if Moore made an argument to return to the rotation earlier. “Not to me. He did not to me, personally.”

Moore’s impending return could mean right-hander Roberto Hernandez will be moved to the bullpen. Hernandez is 6-13 with a 4.97 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts) this season. He pitched one inning of relief in a victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.

“I’m going to get back when I get back,” Moore said. “If they would like me to go on assignment, I’ll absolutely accept it and go out there and try to do the best I can to get back here. That’s the ultimate goal: whatever gets me back here.”

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.