When Jayson Werth was ready to return to the Nationals, the plan was to send rookie Tyler Moore down to the minor leagues so he could play for a month before rejoining the team when the rosters expand in September. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson thought that was the best way to create a roster spot and not stunt Moore’s development.
Instead, the Nationals kept Moore in the majors after placing reliever Henry Rodriguez on the disabled list. And as a result, Johnson admitted he would have to be more creative with how he gets Moore at-bats. He will try to sneak in starts for Moore against left-handed starters and try to play him in left field and at first base.
But Moore, 25, will see his already limited playing time decrease and get more at-bats as a pinch hitter, something he is less familiar with. In the minors, he was an everyday player.
“I want to help this team any way I can,” Moore said. “I’ll learn how to pinch-hit. It’ll be fine for me if I have to go to winter ball. That’s something I’ll look into.”
Moore said winter baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela are options. He has started only 22 games this season, played in 45 and gotten 100 at bats. Moore, a natural first baseman, learned a new position, left field, before this year and played there when the Nationals were saddled with injuries earlier in the season.
The Nationals are high on Moore, who hit 62 home runs over two seasons before being called up this year. He is hitting .290 with six home runs in limited playing time.
For now, Moore and Johnson have talked about pinch hitting strategies: how to stay aggressive, be ready at a moment’s notice and more. Moore will continue to consult with Johnson, a career .342 pinch hitter over 13 seasons.
“It’s very difficult,” Moore said. “That’s why some of the best pinch hitters are hitting .250. It’s unbelievable. It’s just a whole different game plan and whole different situation you’re stepping into.”
Even though he will play less, Moore wants to be in the majors, around his teammates and the pennant race.
“I love me being on this team and helping this team win,” he said.
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