Q&A with Brandon Moss
During his hectic Monday, new Indians outfielder Brandon Moss spent 10 minutes with MLB.com discussing joining the Tribe, reuniting with manager Terry Francona and hitting in Cleveland, among other topics. Here is a transcript of the interview.
MLB.com: You’ve known this trade has been in the works for almost a week. Now that it’s official, what are your thoughts on joining the Indians?
Moss: “I’m excited. Obviously, I know that young pitching staff. I’ve faced them. They’ve got some great arms. They have the Cy Young Award winner, which is pretty awesome. I faced the guy that finished runner-up to him a lot. To beat out that guy, you’ve got to have a pretty special year. And that lineup — I think it’s a great lineup. You can go around the field. There’s quality bats everywhere. There’s a great core group of guys and, in all honesty, it reminds me of after 2012, when they brought us all up and we all kind of took off. That next year in 2013, we had that core group of guys and the young pitching staff and we won the division by a pretty good margin. It reminds me of a team like that. It’s a team with a lot of talent and a lot of capability and it’s going to be exciting to be a part of it.”
MLB.com: You played for Francona in Boston. Does it help your comfort level to have Tito in Cleveland?
Moss: “Yes. Yes, because any time you go to a new team — it doesn’t matter if it’s in the Minor Leagues, Major Leagues, trades or whether you just come up — there’s always that little bit of anxiety, just because you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know how things are done or how things are going to be run. Everything’s always a little bit different, but seeing that group of guys, and knowing the guys that are in that clubhouse, and knowing Tito, I’m really excited to get in there and to be a part of it. I know how he does things and the way he runs a clubhouse, the way he runs a team. And, watching those guys, they just look like they’re having fun.”
MLB.com: Where are you currently in the rehab process after your hip surgery in October?
Moss: “My hip’s coming along great. It feels better than what they’ll let me do. They put me on a really conservative track with the rehab process, just because they wanted to make sure I didn’t get ahead of myself and do anything to re-injure anything. But, it feels great. I don’t have very many limitations. They don’t want me running and pounding my hips right now, but I feel like I could do a lot of things that they won’t let me do yet, just because they’re being conservative. At the end of the day, that’s a good thing, because you want this thing to heal and you want this thing to do what it needs to do so I don’t have to deal with that issue anymore.”
MLB.com: When do you think you’ll be cleared to resume running?
Moss: “I’m supposed to be cleared to run right after Christmas. At the beginning of January, I’m going to go back to Dr. [Thomas] Byrd and have him re-evaluate to make sure everything still looks good, and then he’ll clear me to run. But, I’ve never been much of a runner in the offseason anyways. I’m a big lifter. I like to lift and then I’ll do my baseball-oriented stuff. But, as far as running long distances or doing all that, I’ve never been big into doing that anyways. … You don’t do a lot of running for distance anyway when it comes to baseball. Everything is quick bursts, so that’s the way I do my offseason training, especially with weights and everything. There’s no need to train for something you’re not going to do. I expect to do that in January and then I guess everything after that is a progression.”
MLB.com: Well, if you hit home runs, you only have to jog…
Moss: “One-hundred percent. That’s the way I see it
MLB.com: You had a lot of power success in Oakland, but that’s a hard place to hit. Are you looking forward to playing in Cleveland, where your power numbers could increase?
Moss: “Yes. I’ll be honest, other than it being our home stadium — I love the fans there — I hated playing at the Coliseum. It killed me as a hitter. I know this past year I hit under .200 at home and the year before that I think I hit exactly .200. I’ve pretty much made my seasons on the road. I’d hit 10 or 11 or 12 home runs there, but it’s just a tough place to hit. You don’t get rewarded for fly balls unless you absolutely crush the ball. It’s just a tough place to play, so I’m really excited about playing in a park where I’ve had some success. I’ve always enjoyed playing there.”
MLB.com: Do you have a preferred position? Or, are you happy to bounce around?
Moss: “I’m open to whatever. I’ll do whatever. My whole thing is I play defense, and I give defense everything I have, but I love to hit. I know what I do best is hit and that’s my focus, and I try to do my best when it comes to defense. I’ll play anywhere. Anywhere you can play to get in the lineup, that’s good for me.”
MLB.com: Looking at your second-half numbers, is the explanation as simple as the hip was extremely problematic? Or, did pitchers approach you differently after Yoenis Cespedes was traded?
Moss: “I was definitely pitched a little differently, but if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to be pitched with offspeed and more carefully anyway. That’s just the nature of the beast as it is. The hip was probably 90-percent of the problem. It started bothering me in early May and then I just kind of dealt with it, because it was just tight. But, as the season wore on, other things started flaring up and it started to have some actual pain and then it started to affect the muscles in my glutes and stuff like that. By the end, I couldn’t even hit into my front leg. I was hitting against it. I was hitting away from it and it caused me to pull off the ball a little bit. My numbers as far as fly balls, ground balls and strikeouts didn’t change very much. I still hit as many fly balls as I always do. It’s just that, by not hitting into that front side, I wasn’t getting the carry on the ball.
“That’s really all it was. I didn’t have that power. It wasn’t because of the hip being injured or the tightness. It was the pain. When you would hit into it, the pain was there and I just couldn’t do it. It’s one of those things where pretty much our entire roster was battling injuries and I was going to be the guy. When we’re all battling to get to the postseason, and we’re all battling things, I wasn’t going to be the guy to pull myself out just because my numbers we starting to slip. That’s not how it works. We’re all in it together and, yeah, the numbers would look better on your baseball card at the end of your career, and you wouldn’t have to deal with the constant questions, but at the end of the day, when you’re in a playoff push, you want your guys in the lineup and you keep yourself in the lineup, if you possibly can. And I could, so I did. It was what it was.
“I knew, we knew, everyone knew there was an injury and that my hip was a little messed up. I didn’t want to get it looked at until the end. When I got it looked at, I knew there was going to be pretty definite damage in there, just with the way that it felt. But the cortisone shot that I got before I went to Texas, which was the last series of the year before we went to Kansas City, helped immensely. That honestly relieved a lot of the stress that was on my mind. When youre going through that, you’re like, ‘Man, how much of the struggle is the hip, or am I just losing it? Am I just terrible?’ And then I got the hip fixed and a few days later I was able to hit normal and take my normal swing, and we went to Kansas City and I hit some balls well and they went out of the park, and they weren’t even close to staying in the park. I was like, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ It was that affirmation of, ‘OK, the hip is the entire problem.'”