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Ageless Moyer just keeps on ticking

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer throws in

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer throws in the second inning. (April 17, 2012) Credit: AP

DENVER -- With Mike Pelfrey "99 percent" certain to need Tommy John surgery, the Mets can look to the opposite dugout at Coors Field this weekend to see someone who has had it and recovered from it.

That someone is Jamie Moyer, who is thriving with the Rockies. He will start against Johan Santana Sunday in the series finale.

And if Pelfrey needs any more inspiration, he can think about this: At 28, he is 21 years younger than Moyer.

Moyer's story has been well-chronicled during the baseball season's first month. At 49, he became the oldest pitcher to win a game in major-league history when he beat the Padres on April 18. With his 1-2 record and 2.28 ERA in four outings, he has been the Rockies' best pitcher.

Moyer turns 50 -- the number on the back of his uniform -- on Nov. 18. He missed the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow but decided to give it one more try and made the Rockies out of spring training.

Along the way, Moyer has become something of a national sensation -- an example of how life doesn't have to end at 49, or something like that. He may be the least impressed person about what he has accomplished.

"I've been made aware of it," Moyer said with a sigh Friday in the Rockies' dugout. "I look at it as I'm just doing my job. I feel like I have to look at it that way because having a uniform, honoring your contract, is something that for me as a professional, that's what I need to do. If I can't do it, then I should go home."

The Rockies would prefer he didn't. Even in his heyday around the turn of the century -- the 2000s, not the 1900s -- Moyer didn't throw hard. Now he hardly breaks 80 miles per hour. But so far, it's working.

"It's only been four starts," he said. "I'm going to take it a day at a time, but ultimately I'm going to look at the whole season. My goal is to stay healthy for the season and my goal is to contribute."

Moyer beat a Padres team that had six players on it who weren't alive when he made his major-league debut with the Cubs in 1986. For Seattle, he won 20 games in 2001 and 21 in 2003 -- the latter at the age of 40 -- and he also has pitched for the Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox and Phillies.

After 25 years and 267 wins heading into this season, why not hang 'em up?

"It was my choice to come back," Moyer said. "I didn't want to come to spring training to be a dog-and-pony show. For me, it was, 'I'm here to compete for a job and see what I could do.' I had a few unanswered questions for myself. A couple small hurdles as far as competing and pitching at a competitive level, to see if I could still do that. But beyond that, I didn't feel health was an issue, I didn't feel like desire was an issue. It was an opportunity, and I feel like in life, we get opportunities and we have to take advantage of them."

As much as he might be an inspiration to aging athletes everywhere, Moyer is not looked at that way by his teammates.

"We don't see him as a great story," said Rockies teammate and former Yankee Jason Giambi, a relative youngster of 41. "He competes. He wins. He should be 4-0 the way he's pitched. We don't see him as somebody that's 49 years old. We tease him about it, but he's been more than we could absolutely have hoped for. Then again, he pitched great at 47."

One benefit Moyer had was that he didn't rush his rehab from surgery because he didn't have a contract to live up to.

"I wasn't in any hurry," he said. "I felt like that was an advantage because I didn't really have anywhere to go. Time was on my side."

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