A chance for Moore to do more

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the starting second baseman for your Washington Nationals.

Players have a lot of time to themselves in the offseason. Some fish, some play golf.

Danny Espinosa might be doing some of that, but he’s also growing one of the fiercest beards I’ve ever seen.

A number of Nationals players have embraced full-on beards in the past, with Jayson Werth’s previously serving as the team leader in the aggressive facial hair category. It looks like Espinosa is trying to give Werth a run for his money.

On days that Espinosa trots out to the field this season and doesn’t see Adam LaRoche standing to his left near the first base bag, he’s likely to see Tyler Moore there.

The 25-year-old Moore will serve as the Nats’ backup first baseman this season, a spot on the depth chart that he was able to acquire after the Nationals traded Michael Morse to the Mariners.

Moore excelled offensively last season in his first stint in the majors, hitting 10 homers in just 156 at-bats and posting an .840 OPS. He also produced two RBIs in his lone postseason plate appearance, and two monster ones at that, as his pinch-hit single in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series helped turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.

The Nationals traded Morse because they saw an opportunity to acquire prospects to supplement their minor league system, because they only controlled Morse for one more season and because they wanted to give Morse a chance to play every day in his contract year.

But they also traded the 30-year-old slugger because they knew they had a guy waiting in the wings who could pick up where Morse left off, at least in a part-time role.

“I think Tyler has a comparable skill set,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “They’re both right-handed hitters with power. They run about the same. They play left field about the same. And they play first base about the same.”

Moore certainly isn’t as proven as Morse. His 156 career at-bats are almost 1,400 fewer than Morse’s. But now we’ll get a chance to see how much more Moore can do.

The country-strong Mississippi native will get to play a little first base when LaRoche gets a day off, he can play some left field if called upon and he’ll be manager Davey Johnson’s big right-handed power bat off the bench.

Should he back up that strong 2012 campaign with a solid 2013, Moore could further establish himself as the Nationals’ first baseman of the future once LaRoche’s two-year deal is up.

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