As soon as he heard the word, Tyler Moore’s face contorted into a half-smirk, half-cringe. “Yeah,” Tyler Moore said, shaking his head and letting out a chuckle. “I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
Moore had been reminded of his declaration, made February back at NatsFest, that he had been too “lackadaisical” last year during spring training. That word, Moore said Sunday afternoon, was not quite right. But he did learn a lesson.
Last year, Moore started the spring slow and never found his timing. But he didn’t make any changes. He assumed with more time, his swing would come. And then the year started, and with at-bats hard to come by off the bench, Moore’s slow spring turned into a regular-season malaise.
“I think I’m just more aware of things that need to happen,” Moore said. “Last year, I just kind of thought, ‘Well, I’m fine.’ I never really got it going last year in spring. It showed in the early part of the year, especially not getting at-bats and figuring it out. This year, I want to come in and make that a big emphasis – find it, stick with it and be more consistent.”
Moore started slow again this spring – he managed three hits in his first 19 at-bats. But the Nationals kept giving him at-bats, more than any hitter in camp. Team officials believe Moore has been finding his swing. Though he has yet to draw a walk all spring, which isn’t great, he’s gone 9 for his last 18. Sunday, he went 1 for 3 but stung the ball in each plate appearance.
“The first couple weeks were pretty rough,” Moore said. “But I felt that’s pretty consistent with what I do every year. I’m just slow. Last probably week and a half has been feeling really good, back to normal, locked in.”
The Nationals have given Moore every opportunity to prove he deserves to be part of the Nationals’ opening day roster. Reading the tea leaves, it will probably come down to either him or Jamey Carroll for the final bench spot.
Moore believes his struggles last season, when he started 15 for 95 and got sent to Class AAA, started in the spring. It wasn’t being “lackadaisical.” But he realized he needed to bring more urgency to every at-bat in the spring, that he could make up for a lack of everyday at-bats in the season by taking extra focus into spring appearances.
“Even if I have four a game, that stuff is going to help me out during the season,” Moore said. “If I’m not playing a lot, I can kind of resort back to that, and have that confidence.
“As a bench player, you got to enjoy these at-bats when you’re getting them, and really just lock in when you have them. They give you something to resort to – hey, confidence is up, and it feels good.”
With his swing coming back to him, Moore is feeling good now – and certainly not lackadaisical.
FROM THE POST
The Nats’ batting order is a puzzle, Boz writes.
Anthony Rendon bulked up for his first full major league season, James Wagner writes.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
MATT WILLIAMS’S QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There is no substitute for work.”
DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY