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Moore living dream with Nationals

May 6, 2012

Former Mississippi State first baseman Tyler Moore, left, and Washington Nationals teammate Stephen Strasburg listen to the national anthem prior to a game this season. (Photo by Susan Walsh, AP)

Growing up boys dreamed of stepping to the plate in the big leagues.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-years-old, there were visions of stepping to the pizza box that was home plate and taking a glare at a best friend as he was set to deliver the pitch from what in your mind was the pitcher's mound inside Dodger Stadium.

One week ago for former Mississippi State baseball player Tyler Moore, the dream became reality as he stepped to the plate in southern California, the newest member of the Washington Nationals.

“It was awesome,” said Moore went 1-for-3 in his major league debut. “I don’t know what to say, Dodger Stadium, it was just so cool and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The call came late Saturday night one week ago, actually 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning he was recalled. From there, it was on a plane and off to California to rejoin the team he had spent spring training with.

While he hoped the call would come, it was still a surprise.

“I was fortunate that they put me on the 40-man roster and so I kinda knew that I was going to get a call,” said Moore. “I didn’t know if it was going to be September if I continued to play well in triple-A. I was just trying to take it one step and a time and one day at a time. I was going to get called up at some point, but I was surprised when they did.”

Moore was drafted by the Nationals in 2008 in the 16th round. Since that time, he has spent his time honing his craft and impressing coaches. In his minor league career, Moore has hit 84 home runs including back-to-back seasons of 31 homers in 2010-11.

Following spring training, Moore reported to Syracuse, N.Y. to play for the Chiefs, the triple-A affiliate for the Nationals. In 22 games, he had a .286 batting average with seven home runs and 20 RBIs to go with a slugging percentage of .597.

For Moore, the minor league experience was an opportunity to grow, something he’ll always be proud of.

“It allowed me to build a lot of relationships with a lot of guys that I will be friends with until I die,” Moore said. “It has been awesome because I learned a lot about myself as a hitter and as a man. It has been great and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

While the former Bulldog first baseman appreciates his opportunity to live the dream, he acknowledges the path he has taken has something to do with his current success.

“(Southeastern Conference) ball is great because it gets you prepared for pro-ball a little bit,” Moore said. “I had the opportunity to play for one of the greatest coaches in coach (Ron) Polk in his last year. I was blessed enough to get to play for him. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

On Tuesday, Moore and his teammates will continue their season with a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nationals are 9-3 at home this season thanks in part to the young talent of Stephen Strasburg and newcomer Byrce Harper.

“It is very exciting,” Moore said. “We have a core group guys that are just really cool to be around and have so much young talent that we are all kind of learning together.”

When asked if Strasburg and is 1.13 ERA was as good as advertised he simply said, “no, he is a little bit better.”

As for Moore, he is naturally excited for his shot in the big leagues, but he is committed to his team and not individual accomplishments.

“It is exciting, but I’ve got games under my belt now so it kinda getting more to baseball and looking to win now,” Moore said. “The first day was a great thing for me personally, but it is not about me, it is about this team winning.”

If there's a chance to get a glimpse of Moore on TV, it might not be at his typical position of first base. He is doing what is asked of him and trying his hand at playing left field for the Nationals. It has been an adjustment, but one he is willing to work for.

“I’ve had to develop my speed and versatility a little bit more,” Moore said. “I’m just getting in the outfield as much as I can to read balls off the bat, especially when I’m playing left with a lefty up. It is all about getting the right read and taking good first steps.”

To this point, there is at least one baseball tradition he’s missed out on.

“No rookie hazing yet… it is coming down the way I’m sure," Moore said.

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