Pat Moran spent last winter pondering life in the working world and putting to use the exercise science degree he earned last May from Saint Joseph’s College.
But with spring came a resurgence of the competitive juices that spurred him to baseball success as a pitcher at Hampden Academy, the Brewer American Legion program, Saint Joseph’s and — last summer — the Pittsfield (Mass.) Colonials of the independent Can-Am League.
So Moran volunteered to help out with the Hampden baseball team, put back on the uniform — and suddenly any off-season uncertainty disappeared.
“I was pretty undecided all winter,” he said. “I thought about looking toward a career and settling down more, and I leaned toward that all winter. But once I got into coaching and the major league season started I got the urge to go back and play.
“I didn’t want to take a job just to take a job, especially with baseball as an option.”
Moran’s job this summer will be the same as it was last year, as the Colonials have exercised a team option to extend the rookie contract Moran signed in June.
Spring training begins May 14, with the Can-Am League set to begin its regular season two weeks later.
“I had little knowledge of independent baseball before I got into it,” said Moran, “but it was a good situation for me last year, I felt like I fit in and made progress, and it’s definitely good baseball.”
Moran, 24, hoped to be drafted by a major league organization last June and was disappointed when that didn’t happen.
But a connection from St. Joseph’s, where the Winterport native posted a 19-8 career record — the third-most wins in Monks’ history — led to a tryout with Pittsfield where he impressed manager Brian Daubach, the former Boston Red Sox player, enough to earn a roster spot.
Moran initially worked out of the bullpen, but after three appearances was sidelined by shoulder tendinitis.
“I was a little nervous, particularly because I was working in the bullpen and they go through a lot of guys out there,” said Moran. “But I figured I better be honest and tell them rather than going out there and really hurting my shoulder.”
The Colonials stuck by Moran’s potential, and when he returned to action he eventually earned a spot in the starting rotation.
Pittsfield advanced to the Can-Am League playoffs, and Moran earned a win in the Colonials’ semifinal series victory over the Brockton Rox. Quebec ultimately won the title, defeating Pittsfield 3-1 in the best-of-five finals.
“I was the No. 4 starter for the last month and a half, and then I got two playoff starts so it worked out pretty well,” said Moran, who finished 5-2 with a save in 18 games, including 10 starts.
Moran said his independent baseball debut produced significant self-improvement, as he developed variations of his fastball and came to rely more heavily on his changeup.
“I expect a lot from myself,” said Moran, “and I know I got a lot better last summer because I had to get better.”
Moran hopes that improvement will lead to more more success with the Colonials this year — or better yet, getting a major league scout to take enough notice to take a chance on him.
“Everybody who’s there is trying to get to that point,” Moran said. “That’s the reason we’re playing.”