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.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.