When the Washington Nationals optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse on June 9, they did it to give the first baseman/outfielder consistent at-bats and allow him to regain his comfort at the plate. With right-hander Dan Haren going to the disabled list, and after just 45 minor league at-bats, the team decided he was ready to return on Tuesday.
“(He’s) another bat that I can use in the outfield with a little more pop,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Where we’re situated right now, the more bodies I can get the better. With a couple of pretty good left-handers coming up he’ll get some at-bats up here.”
From the sound of it, Moore is not just here to fill a roster spot until the team needs to call up a pitcher to start on Saturday in Haren’s place. Asked if Moore would be here for a lengthier stay, Johnson simply said “yeah.”
Chris Marrero and Moore create some redundancy behind first baseman Adam LaRoche on the roster, but Moore’s ability to play the outfield allows him a bit more value and versatility as a right-handed bat off the bench than Marrero, who is exclusively a first baseman.
The Nationals will have a few roster moves to make the coming days, as aside from adding a starter for Saturday they’ll also likely be activating Bryce Harper from the disabled list next week.
But they view Moore as a key piece of their team this season, and their hope is he will help boost their offense.
Moore said he felt “like baseball was fun again,” when he was able to get regular at-bats in the minor leagues and take some of the pressure off himself that a slow start had left him carrying on his shoulders.
“(It was just nice to have) the feeling of competing with the pitcher on the mound, instead of getting so caught up in my own head at the plate,” Moore said. “This game is crazy. It’ll make you think crazy things on what he’s trying to do instead of what you’re trying to do.
“(I) just want to get back to playing baseball and I’m just so blessed to get back up here. I don’t want to take it for granted.”
Moore hit .178 in Triple-A with two doubles, two homers and five walks. In his first big league stint he hit .158/.206/.274.
“I feel good at the plate,” he said. “I went down to Triple-A and had some consecutive at-bats. I know my average wasn’t great, but I squared some balls up, had a bunch of walks and felt like I was staying in the strike zone a little bit more.”