ATLANTA - It’d be pretty tough to argue that Tyler Moore didn’t earn his promotion back to the big leagues.
After getting optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on July 8 following another tough stretch with the Nationals, Moore caught fire. He hit .367/.442/.664 over 33 games, with eight home runs, 12 doubles and 38 RBIs. During that stretch, Moore walked 18 times compared to 24 walks, a very impressive ratio for a power hitter.
This comes after Moore struggled mightily with the Nats this season, hitting .151 with a major league-worst .478 OPS.
Now back with the Nats after getting recalled from Syracuse today, Moore hopes that he can keep his hot streak going, even if the playing time will be less consistent back here in the bigs.
“I just want to continue what I was doing,” Moore said this afternoon in the Nats clubhouse at Turner Field. “I think earlier in the year, there was a timing issue going on with my swing. I thought it was so off, nothing was going on with my swing or anything. And then getting those at-bats (at Triple-A) kind of helped me realize that. Once I made the adjustment, I just kept doing it and I felt back to normal.
“When I was up here, I just felt like the heater was getting on me really hard. I was chasing a lot of balls in the dirt and up. Obviously I was just late. Me and (Syracuse hitting coach Troy Gingrich) just worked down there, it was more on the mental side of the swing than anything. He just told me to start earlier and then slow it down. Once I started slowing down, I felt back to normal.
“It just took kind of long because I wasn’t really getting consistent at-bats (in the majors). I’d have one or two games and then I’d feel like it’s kind of coming, and then it would go away. So we kind of put a little something on that until it was able to happen consistently.”
Moore was optioned back to Triple-A the same day that the Nationals acquired Scott Hairston in a trade with the Cubs - a power-hitting, right-handed corner outfielder who essentially filled the same role Moore held previously, minus the ability to play first base.
“I didn’t know they were going to (make the trade), but obviously they had to make a change,” Moore said. “I think it was better for me in the long run just to go down and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to play every day, you’re going to figure out what’s going on and then once you figure it, maybe something will happen.’ But I don’t think the first time I came back up I was ready, by any means. I’m just happy to be back and happy to have success down there.”
This will now be Moore’s fifth different stint with the Nationals. He fared well last year, hitting 10 home runs in just 156 at-bats, but is eager to perform well enough to stick around for good this time.
“I think anytime I feel like I’ve struggled, I feel like I’ve learned,” Moore said. “That’s a huge thing for me. I say I’m a young player, but I’m 26. It’s about time for me to start hanging on to some things and really taking them with me. I just feel like I struggled. I learned how to get out of it, I came through adversity and I feel like it just makes you stronger.
“The ultimate goal is just to help the Nationals win. It’s been a tough year for everybody here in this organization. Just kind of like the personal goals, you want to learn from those mistakes, learn what we did wrong or what we did wrong and just continue to build.
Davey Johnson talks all the time about how he doesn’t like having younger players on his bench, feeling that veterans, who are more established and confident in their abilities at the big league level, are better off serving in roles where they don’t get consistent playing time. That said, Johnson likes Moore’s skill-set, and it seems like he’s ready to give the burly 26-year-old more opportunities this time around.
“I’ll go day-to-day on him,” Johnson said. “But I’m definitely going to get him in more games. With the lack of success of some of our left-handers against left-handed pitching, (that) will enable me to get him more in the lineup. Early on, I did not have an option on doing that. But the way the guys have played against left-handed pitching, it kinda merits that, that they get less playing time.”
Moore’s ready for his chance, even if it means being back on the bench.
“I know it’s a tough job but I’m very confident in myself,” he said. “I just want to help this team.”