Moore’s hot start is no surprise to Williams

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - One of the few roster questions the Nationals are facing this spring is what to do with Tyler Moore. The 28-year-old is out of minor league options, meaning he either needs to make the 25-man opening day roster or be subjected to the waiver wire on his way to the minors - and it’s doubtful he’d pass through unclaimed.

Moore, who has recognized his situation as “critical,” has responded early for the Nats. After today’s 9-8 Grapefruit League victory over the Braves, he’s now 4-for-5 with a two doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBIs through the first two exhibition games.

tyler moore blue running sidebar.jpg“He’s seeing it good,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Moore. “He had a great winter ball. And from Day One of spring training, for me, the winter ball helped. He came in with timing and rhythm. And he’s getting lots of at-bats, which is good. Just an example today of what he can do. Both balls to the other gap, staying on them. He’s seeing the ball good.”

The right-handed batting Moore hit his second-inning two-run homer and his fifth-inning bases-loaded triple to the opposite field. He spent part of the winter playing in the Dominican Republic, where he hit .299 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 22 games.

Moore, who started in right field today and left field last night, figures to get added at-bats during this exhibition season due to Jayson Werth and Nate McLouth still recovering from shoulder surgeries.

That’s a good sign for Moore, who has been far more productive when he’s getting consistent plate appearances during his Nats career.

In 2012, Moore made the Nationals postseason roster after batting .263 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in 75 games. However, last season, Moore received just 91 at-bats while struggling to hit .231 with four home runs and 14 RBIs, spending a majority of the season in the minors.

Jordan Zimmermann was solid in his first exhibition start, throwing two scoreless innings, while surrendering one soft hit and one walk. He threw only 23 pitches, and showed nothing that surprised Williams.

“Typical - pound the zone, work fast, aggressive,” Williams said. “He threw great. He could’ve probably gone out for one more, but we’re not going to push it.”

Taylor Jordan didn’t fare so well in his first outing since dealing with bone chips in his elbow that cut his last season short. The right-hander gave up three runs on three hits, including a homer, while pitching the third inning.

“Fastball command wasn’t there,” said Williams. “Changeup was good. But his fastball was kind of all over the place today. But that’s the first time out. The fact he was able to change speeds and throw strikes with his changeup is a good sign.”

stammen-looking-for-sign-intense-white-front-sidebar.jpgThe Braves pounded Craig Stammen for eight hits and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Williams didn’t seem too concerned with his normally consistent reliever’s appearance.

“We know the more he throws, the better he gets,” he said. “We pushed him a little bit today, just to get him into the flow. I have no worries about Stammer.”

Taylor Hill pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to record the win, while Manny Delcarmen provided a perfect ninth to earn a save. The Nationals are now 2-0 in Grapefruit League play.

Williams did not have a postgame report on second baseman Yunel Escobar, who was scheduled to see a doctor today for back soreness. He said that Danny Espinosa is expected to make his first game appearance tomorrow when the Cardinals visit Space Coast Stadium for a 1 p.m. game that will be televised on MASN HD. Espinosa, one of this spring’s key storylines, has been batting exclusively from the right side of the plate during camp after spending his entire career as a switch-hitter.

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