Jays’ Peter Mooney stays positive despite bad breaks
Shortstop overcomes serious injury and height disadvantage
DUNEDIN, FL –
It is as if Monty Python was singing about Peter Mooney.
The diminutive shortstop from Loxahatchee, Florida has had his fair share of obstacles to overcome, and if it were not for him “always looking on the bright side of life”, his path to the major leagues may have stalled years ago.
One major disruption in Mooney’s career was the tear in his right labrum (shoulder) he suffered last year that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season.
“I just had the surgery and honestly I’m so excited to get out there on the field,” he said on Wednesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. “Missing a whole year, it’s like I have to learn how to play the game again.
“It was tough to go through but at the same time, you just have to take it in stride and get better from there. Once you got all the stitches in there and there’s nothing you can do, you just got to move on.”
Mooney acknowledges how big of an accomplishment it was just to get back to the game he loves and after struggling for months to even pick up a baseball, he finally had the moment he had been waiting for last fall.
“There was a point when I was just throwing the ball around in the yard, when I just didn’t feel that same pain anymore and it was so sudden. The day before, I had felt it, and then it was like somebody flipped the switch and it felt incredible knowing I could get back to the diamond.”
In the 2011 season, before he tore his labrum, Mooney played for Blue Jays affiliates in the Appalachian League, the Gulf Coast League and the Midwest League where he hit a combined .286 and drew 24 walks in 31 games.
Dennis Holmberg, manager of the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League, noted that Mooney had a terrific work ethic.
“Peter is a tough kid. He plays hard, and practices hard,” Holmberg said, over the phone. “He caught a really tough break, but I’m certain he will bounce back.”
The labrum issue was something Mooney dealt with over the course of a year, but there is one deprivation the 5-foot-6 infielder cannot change with surgeries and rehab.
“Definitely my height has been a disadvantage. You see scouts coming out to games in high school and junior college and college, and the first thing they do is scan the park. They look for a major league body. You see a little guy at shortstop and they’ll skip right over you,” Mooney said.
“To stand out to them you have to do something great. You have to catch their attention.
“Not only that, you have to do it day in and day out. If you have a bad game, that might be it for you, and they may just turn their eyes to the bigger guy on your team. So you have to stand out with your play so they will see you too.”
Mooney’s size and injuries may have slowed his rise to the big leagues, but in no way has it dampened his passion for the game.
“My whole life I have been working my butt off trying to do what I do best. I can’t imagine what it would take to stop that now.”
And he might keep something else in mind: Size didn’t hamper Hall of Fame shortstops Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith.
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