Moss eager to prove knee is healthy

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009

BRADENTON, Fla. — Even before he got unexpected good news about his left knee, Brandon Moss never doubted he would be ready for the start of spring training.

"I knew with the surgery I was supposed to have, it meant eight weeks of non-weight-bearing and then rehab," Moss said after taking batting practice at Pirate City. "(Missing spring training) was never in my head."

Moss missed the last week of the 2008 season due to pain and swelling in his knee. Two doctors, including orthopedic specialist Richard Steadman, recommended microfracture surgery.

"I went under (anesthesia) thinking I was getting the microfracture," Moss said. "When I came to, (Steadman) said my knee was too angled to do it without taking other measures."

Rather than attempt a microfracture, which involves drilling into the bone, Steadman used an arthroscope to remove loose bits of cartilage. Instead of needing three to five months of rehab, Moss was back on his feet in weeks.

"They cleaned it out, and it feels like I have a brand-new knee," Moss said. "It's stronger than it's ever been. I've built it up so much, I've outgrown the brace I had been wearing."

The brace presses on the outside of Moss' knee, so his body weight is evenly distributed. He will wear the knee brace in batting practice and workouts during spring training and during the regular season, but not during games.

"I'm gonna take it one day at a time and monitor it," he said. "So far, everything looks good. I wouldn't care if my knee blew out the day I announced my retirement from baseball. As long as it lasts until that day, until I'm ready to go."

And so it begins

Saturday was the first group workout for pitchers and catchers at Pirate City.

At the end of the day, 18 pitchers threw bullpen sessions. Among the group were Ian Snell, Tyler Yates, Donnie Veal, Sean Burnett and Evan Meek. Matt Capps and Ross Ohlendorf looked sharp.

Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny ran laps and are slated to throw off the mound this morning. Gorzelanny is in excellent shape and appears to have dropped at least 20 pounds.

Aches and pains

Right-hander Jeff Karstens will throw a 25-pitch bullpen session this morning. It will be his fourth sideline session since missing time during minicamp in January due to elbow pain. ... General manager Neal Huntington said lefty Phil Dumatrait is about three weeks behind schedule after a pair of setbacks to his surgically repaired shoulder. Dumatrait still has time to make the team as a reliever, but there is no chance of him beginning the season in the rotation.

We are the world

By the first week of March, Pirate City will be a melting pot of baseball cultures.

The minor-league camp roster will include Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, of India; Gift Ngoepe of South Africa; and Chris Aure, who graduated from North Pole High in Alaska. They'll mix with players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Taiwan, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Australia, Canada and El Salvador.

A team from Seoul, South Korea, already is working out at the complex and will share space with the World Baseball Classic team from the Netherlands.

The non-Americans tend to stick together in the clubhouse. Singh said that can be beneficial for more than just developing baseball skills.

"It helps us learn English faster," said Singh, who trained in Los Angeles for several months before spring training. "In L.A., some people taught us bad (obscene) words. But here, everybody teaches us good words."

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