Matt Moore cleared to play catch five months after Tommy John surgery

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Rays left-hander Matt Moore is scheduled to play catch Monday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in April.

It’s the first major step in a long road back for Moore, who prior to blowing out his elbow had emerged as one of the best young pitchers in baseball with his first All-Star appearance last season and a 3.53 ERA with 339 strikeouts in 347 innings through age 25.

Tampa Bay will no doubt be cautious with Moore’s recovery timetable, so don’t expect him to be ready for Opening Day next season and his sitting out most of the first half seems possible.