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2nd time has been charm for Moore

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2nd time has been charm for Moore

Just about every ballplayer, upon getting promoted to make his big-league debut, tries to insist the game is no different at this higher level of competition than it was at every previous level.

It's not always as easy as it sounds, though, as Tyler Moore found out last month when he first joined the Nationals.

"Yeah, exactly. It is the same game, but also there's a lot of stuff that comes with that game, too," Moore said. "There's a lot more fans. The stadiums are bigger. It makes your adrenaline get up a little more. You just have to learn how to calm yourself down and realize it is a game, and I play the best when I'm calm."

These days, Moore is feeling plenty calm with his surroundings. After struggling during his first big-league stint, he has returned and reasserted himself as a potent offensive player.

After hitting .158 (3-for-19) with seven strikeouts in his first 12 games -- which prompted a demotion to Class AAA Syracuse -- Moore is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with only two strikeouts in six games since rejoining the big-league roster.

"It was of course disappointing to be optioned to Syracuse but at the same time they had to make a move," he said. "I just went down to the minor leagues and got some at-bats and got some repetition back. And then I came back up here and I've had a lot more at-bats than my previous time up here. That helped me a lot, getting more at-bats and seeing more pitches to get back in a rhythm."

Moore has indeed found himself in Davey Johnson's lineup more regularly this time around. He's become a mainstay presence against left-handed starters, either in left field or at first base (where he's playing tonight against Rays lefty Matt Moore).

Johnson sees a different player during this stint, one who appears more comfortable with his surroundings and who has learned how to adapt to more sporadic playing time.

"Just getting over probably a little bit of nervousness," Johnson said. "It's very difficult for a young player who's used to playing every day to get into a rhythm where you feel real confident about seeing the ball and the strike zone. ... In the big leagues, you sometimes try to take the same approach as if you were playing every day."

Another difference has been Moore's approach at the plate; he's not falling behind in the count as much and being forced into using defensive swings (which may in part explain the drop in his strikeout rate).

"I think he came back feeling like he needed to be a little more aggressive," Johnson said of Moore, who crushed 71 home runs over his last 1,121 minor-league at-bats. "He has a great stroke. I love his stroke. He's short to the ball, uses the whole field. He's quiet up there. Once you have some results, it just locks you into that same approach."

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

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