LAKELAND, Fla. - Gone are the days when Tyler Moore just hoped to make an impression on the Nationals. The soft-spoken first baseman/outfielder has accomplished that goal, though he’s going to have to adjust to a much different role in the coming two weeks.
With the Washington outfield set in stone and Adam LaRoche’s big bat and slick glove manning first base, Moore is without a position. No amount of production in spring training will change the inevitability of his situation: In short order, he’ll be part of the Nationals bench, pinch hitting when called upon, maybe spelling one of the regulars once or twice a week.
That’s what made his two-homer game in the Nationals’ 12-10 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday a little less personally satisfying. Moore knows his role will change, and he’ll soon become a part-time bat. It’s as if the calendar is mocking him just when he’s starting to feel comfortable at the plate.
“I get kind of closer to the season ... and I kind of want to start to make that push and sort of lock in and stuff, and our regular starters are going to be there probably the last week or so, so you want to get locked in. It gives you a sense of urgency there,” he said.
With LaRoche and right fielder Jayson Werth staying back in Viera, Moore made the 90-minute bus trip to Joker Marchant Stadium and batted cleanup Sunday, playing right field. He homered to left leading off the fourth inning and followed that blast with a two-run, opposite-field shot in the fifth to give the Nationals a 7-1 lead.
The 2-for-3 day upped his spring average to .263 and he’s now got three homers and seven RBIs. Five of his 12 hits this spring have been for extra bases, and that makes manager Davey Johnson more eager to use him as a power bat off the bench.
“You know he’s got power,” Johnson said of Moore. “He’s a heck of a hitter. He’s been swinging the bat awfully good for about 10 days or so.”