Moore has found the good life in the majors, but not much playing time. Moore has made seven plate appearances, and tonight he will make only his second start, facing left-hander Erik Bedard. The dearth of playing time has not bothered him at all.
“I’ve been having a blast,” Moore said. “I definitely understand what my role is, what Davey wants to do. It’s fun to be part of a winning team. It’s definitely an adjustment. I see why I’m sitting on the bench.”
Manager Davey Johnson still wants to rely on Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady with Jayson Werth out until August recovering from a broken wrist. Moore’s start tonight is not necessarily a sign of more at-bats to come. But he could earn them.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” Johnson said. “I’m waiting for two or three of our guys to start playing up to their capabilities. [Danny] Espinosa. Bernadina. Nady. Tyler Moore is kind of down on the list. These guys need to stand up. If Tyler has a pretty good game, we’ll take it from there.”
Johnson said yesterday he believes Moore has been put in an unfair position. He is, the Nationals believe, the best available hitter to come off the bench. But Johnson, in a perfect world, would want Moore playing every day at Class AAA Syracuse and continuing to improve.
“I’ll try to get him some at-bats and double-switch and pinch-hit for him,” Johnson said. “But it’s not what I would call optimum development process for him.”
General Manager Mike Rizzo did not share those qualms. He prefers to have Moore in Washington coming off the bench to letting him play everyday in Class AAA. Since Moore is 25, not in his early 20s, Rizzo believes there just isn’t much developing left for him to do, and so he should be using his powerful bat to help the major league team.
“We’ve got the 25 guys that we want on the roster right now,” Rizzo said. “That’s always subject to change. As of right now, we like what Tyler brings to our roster. It gives Davey flexibility in left field and at first base and a right-handed bat off the bench. This is a professional hitter and he’s going to be a good major league player. We feel he’s going to help the ball club.”
Tonight, Moore will try to help in left field. He has only four games of experience left in both the majors and minors. His first start came in left, and he made a fine play on the only ball hit to him. For now, he is playing deeper than a typical left field to get better reads on balls and to make sure nothing sneaks past him. He feels more comfortable each day, shagging fly balls for practice before games.
Moore will be challenged tonight by PNC Park’s spacious left field.
“I really had to clear that with [third base coach] Bo Porter,” Johnson said. “I said, is it too roomy out there for a converted first baseman who hasn’t had a lot of games out there? He was comfortable with it, so I’m comfortable with it. A young player like Tyler Moore that has a lot of potential, I like to put him in the lineup.”
Yesterday, Moore walked along the left field fence with Porter, who explained how the ball will come off the angled wall in the corner. Moore will lean on center field Bryce Harper for help.
“It is definitely a big left field, a lot of ground to cover,” Moore said. “But that’s why my center field is going to help me out.”