Injury becomes blessing for former SoCal star
MAY 14, 2013 7:14p ET
That ticket hadn’t been punched yet when Moustakas, then a junior for the Chancellors, needed to rethink things.
In his addition to his exploits on the baseball diamond, he was also the quarterback of the football team.
One day during practice, just one game into the season, Moustakas was running around the field as a wide receiver. He went up to make a catch and was taken down from behind by a teammate.
What resulted was a season-ending ankle injury. It would also be the end of his football career.
“(It was) kind of a freak thing,” Moustakas said of the injury. “After that, I was done.”
Moustakas suffered a broken ankle. It was at the point he made, perhaps, the biggest business decision of his career: He decided he would focus purely on baseball.
It paid off -- he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals.
A blessing in disguise?
“That’s exactly what it was,” said a reflective Moustakas sitting in the visitors clubhouse at Angel Stadium. “At that point it was either come back and try to play (football) my senior year or just focus on baseball and I just decided to take it off and just focus on baseball.”
It wasn’t easy to walk away from the game of football. Of course, he liked the sport and he was getting tugged in that direction.
“They wanted me to come back and play quarterback out of the shotgun and just, kind of, sit back and drop back and I was like ‘I don’t think that’s a very good idea,'" he recalls.
Moustakas stuck with his decision and had a dynamite senior year.
It began in September of 2006 when he and his high school teammate and current Houston Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez traveled to Cuba to play for Team USA Juniors in the IBAF World Junior Championship. As it turned out, playing in that tournament would have forced Moustakas to miss the first couple of weeks of football during his senior year had he elected to stick with football.
They returned from Cuba with a silver medal before Moustakas and Dominguez manned the left side of the infield for famed coach, Tom Meusborn – Moustakas at shortstop and Dominguez at third base –as the Chancellors won the L.A. City Section championship. It was the four-year letterman’s second City title of his prep career.
“It was awesome,” said Moustakas, who has four homers, 10 RBI and five doubles so far this season with Kansas City. “Some of my best friends, I made playing baseball in Chatsworth so it was a great time in my life.”
He’s now looking forward to the day he can share the field with one of his best friends in a big league game. The date is quickly approaching.
Next week it will be a Chatsworth reunion in Houston when the Royals visit for a three-game series with the Astros to conclude their current nine-game road trip.
Moustakas and Dominguez started playing baseball together as eight-year-olds. They have faced one another in the minors but never in the big leagues. Moustakas is looking forward to that happening.
“It will be awesome seeing Matty D there,” he said. “It’s going to be real cool.”