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Tyler Moore recorded two hits in a rare start last night.
So it may sound surprising to hear that Moore admittedly began to doubt himself when he opened this season 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. It's not surprising to hear that those doubts led to some bad habits at the plate.
"Yeah, I'm sure you press a little too much," he said. "Sometimes I feel like I take two swings on one pitch. You press and you want to get a hit so bad, and most times it doesn't work out. The more you get to calm down, the more you square it up."
Imagine Moore's relief last night. Presented with his first opportunity to start a game this year, he delivered a pair of early hits, including a double, and drove in three runs to help spark the Nationals to an early lead and eventually a 10-3 victory over the Marlins.
It's not an easy thing to do, coming off the bench as a young player. Especially when nobody in the starting lineup needs regular days off.
Moore understands the situation. He's not going to start many games at first base in place of Adam LaRoche. And he's certainly not going to start many games in left field in place of Bryce Harper. But he had a smile on his face yesterday when he reported to the visitors clubhouse at Marlins Park and realized manager Davey Johnson was giving the slumping LaRoche a night off.
"I was a little surprised when I saw my name in the lineup today," he said. "But that's why Davey is so good of a manager. He's loyal to his players, he believes in them and he gave me an opportunity today. I was just glad to get the start and get some knocks out of the way."
Is it tough to stay both physically and mentally ready when you only get one at-bat every other day?
"Definitely," Moore said. "I think the hardest job is being a pinch-hitter. Every time you get a start, you try to value that. It just makes you calmer, because you're getting three at-bats. It makes you able to calm down. I was able to do that today and it paid off."
Moore will be back on the bench tonight, with LaRoche expected to return to the lineup against Marlins right-hander Alex Sanabia. He'll have to adjust back to life getting one at-bat in one key spot late in a game. But he believes that adjustment will be made easier by the simple fact he got to start last night and got a couple of hits in the process.
"Huge. Huge," he said. "Because now I can go back in my role and have confidence in doing it, instead of kind of wondering."