The Nationals optioned first baseman Tyler Moore back to Class AAA Syracuse in order to make room for catcher Jhonatan Solano, who will serve as a safeguard against rushing back Jesus Flores into the lineup as he rests a mild hamstring strain.
Solano will serve as a third catcher behind Flores and Carlos Maldonado, replacing a promising power hitter who, really, served no role. Moore, who had drilled seven homers in less than a month at Syracuse, has been in the majors for a month, and he received only 19 at-bats in 12 games, starting five. He went 3 for 19 with no walks and seven strikeouts in his inconsistent introduction to the big leagues.
“I didn’t play a whole lot, but I got to experience the atmosphere and experience how things work,” Moore said. “It was real beneficial for me. … I mean, it’s a blow. But at the same time, I get to play and get back in my rhythm, feel like I’m a ballplayer again. It’ll be fun to get down there and see the guys.”
Solano receives his call-up at a personally fortuitous time. His brother Donovan, a Marlins infielder, was recently promoted to the majors for the first time. Tuesday, Solano will him as a first-time major leaguer at Marlins Park.
At Class AAA Syracuse, Solano, regarded as a highly reliable defensive catcher, has hit .250/.298/.288 in just 13 games. He recently returned from an injury.
The Nationals do not believe Flores, their starter with Wilson Ramos out for the season, will be sidelined for more than a few days with his hamstring injury. This afternoon, he warmed up pitchers between innings. But Manager Davey Johnson is worried about forcing him back too soon, and Solano’s presence will prevent that.
“I’m not sure that I would want to take a chance, barring anything else that’s happened around here,” Johnson said. “Just had to make that move. I didn’t see any other way to safeguard. Hopefully, I could probably get [Flores] more than just the one day to make sure he’s over that, because if you pull it a little bit and then you injure it, you’re out a long time. We can’t afford that.”
Johnson said he felt bad for Moore, who mostly watched. The action he received came in left field, a position he started playing only in mid-April.
“I thought he handled himself well,” Johnson said. “That’s not the role you want for a young player, a young, talented prospect, sitting there and playing against a left-hander occasionally. So he’s better off going and playing. We think highly of him and he’s got a great future here.”