Nationals expanding Moore's versatility

Nationals expanding Moore's versatility

Nationals expanding Moore's versatility
WASHINGTON -- This past offseason, Triple-A Syracuse first baseman Tyler Moore spent four days in Houston with Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter on the fundamentals of playing left and right field.

Porter came away impressed with how Moore was able to play the corner outfield spots. Moore has a good arm, sure hands and takes good routes. He worked a lot with Porter on getting back on the ball.

"Like I explained to him, the more comfortable you get going back on the ball, it will help him with his positioning," Porter said. "It means you are not afraid to play people a little bit shallow based on a hitter. If you have confidence and the ball stays in the ballpark, you can go back."

The work in the outfield didn't end in Houston, according to Porter. Moore spent a lot of time working on his outfield skills in Spring Training.

"Most of the stuff that we did with him was kind of away from everything that was going on," Porter said. "He did a lot of live shagging out there and getting balls off the bat."

Starting this week, the Nationals currently have Moore splitting time between first base and left field for Syracuse. Moore has played two games in left field without making an error.

"He is an athletic kid anyway, so [I expected it to be] a good transition," Porter said. "I explained to him, I've been down that road before with Josh Willingham and Chris Coghlan [with the Marlins]. I told Tyler, this is going to improve his value across the board.

"I think he is a heads-up baseball player. He understands the game. He is a guy that wants to learn. He is a hard worker. He has all the attributes that you are looking for when a guy gets ready to change positions -- the extra work that he has to put in, he is more than capable and has the energy to do it."

Moore is off to a good start for Syracuse, hitting .293 with six home runs and 16 RBIs entering Saturday's action. In the previous two years, Moore has hit a combined 60 home runs with 201 RBIs for Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

"Just look at his numbers. The guy has hit everywhere he has been," Porter said. "It's an offensive bat that, given the situation with Mikey Mo [Michael Morse], it's a luxury for the organization to have a guy of his caliber in Triple-A that has flexibility who can play first base and the corner outfield positions."

Asked recently if he could see Moore playing left field if Morse is unable to come back from his torn right lat injury, general manager Mike Rizzo said, "That's too many ifs for me. We feel Morse is going to come back. All along, we felt Moore has the capability of playing in the big leagues and impacting a team in the big leagues."

Morse has been shut down for six weeks because of the lat injury. The team is hoping that rest can heal the injury. If rest doesn't work, Morse could have surgery and possibly be out for the year.