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Nationals' slugger Tyler Moore out of options with something to prove

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Can Washington Nationals' slugger Tyler Moore earn a spot on the bench this Spring? He's off to a hot start and Nats' skipper Matt Williams said yesterday he came into camp with good timing and rhythm. He's out of options. What does the future hold?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Moore, who debuted in the majors coming off the bench for the NL East Champion Washington Nationals in 2012 and struggled in the same role in 2013, spent most of the 2014 campaign with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, where the 28-year-old, 2008 16th Round pick put up a .265/.367/.434 line with 21 doubles and 10 home runs in 84 games and 302 plate appearances.

With the Nationals last season, Moore put up a .231/.300/.385 line with two doubles and four home runs in 42 games and 100 PAs. A total of 78 of those 100 major league plate appearances came in April and May and Moore didn't return to the Nats until September. He was not included on the Nats' postseason roster.

"I’m out of options. And obviously they have to make a decision and I feel like I can play for this team..." -Tyler Moore, December 2014

When the season ended with the Nationals' NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants, Moore went down to the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano.

The Nats' slugger played for the Toros del Este, putting up a .299/.429/.584 line with four doubles and six home runs in 22 games.

As he explained at NatsFest this winter, he went to the Dominican because he wanted to get more at bats and stay sharp knowing there was a big Spring ahead for him since he'd be battling for a role on the bench and was out of options.

"Spent about six weeks down in the Dominican," Moore explained. "Then came back and just glad to be home and trying to soak it up until we come back to work."

Moore said while he was in the Dominican Republic he said he was concentrating on, "... really just being a more complete hitter, because a lot of those guys down there are throwing 95-100 [mph] every game. It was good to see it. I got familiar with pitchers I didn’t know and also it just gave me more at-bats and me made more disciplined at the plate, so it was fun."

Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked about the time he spent in the DWL yesterday while discussing Moore's hot start to Spring Training.

In the first two games, (a small sample size, yes) Moore is 4 for 5 with two doubles, a triple and a HR.

"'He's seeing it good,'" Williams told reporters, including MASN's Chris Johnson on Friday.

"'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.'"

Moore explained this past December that he was well aware how important this Spring would be.

"I’m out of options," Moore said. "And obviously they have to make a decision and I feel like I can play for this team and I just want to help us win and like we did last year get back to the playoffs."

"This year’s kind of a crucial year for me and I’m just ready for an opportunity," he continued.

"I’m going to come in and help this team win, and we’ll see what happens. That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to winter ball, to get better. I felt like it really benefited me a lot."

It's just two games in, but he's off to a good start. Does his defense in the outfield hurt him? Does his ability to play first and back up Ryan Zimmerman help him? Can Moore earn a spot on the Nats' bench?