MIAMI -- Desperately in need of another healthy catcher, the Nationals optioned outfielderfirst baseman Tyler Moore to Class AAA Syracuse following today's game and made plans to get Jhonatan Solano to Miami in time for tomorrow night's game against the Marlins.
Though they played today with only one healthy catcher in Carlos Maldonado, and though they believe Jesus Flores (who strained his right hamstring last night in Atlanta) should be ready to return in a matter of days, the Nationals decided not to take any chances and promote Solano.
"I would hate for him to pull a hamstring or something by me rushing him back in the lineup," manager Davey Johnson said following a 5-3 loss to Miami. "Just had to make that move. I didn't see any other way to safeguard. ... If you pull it a little bit and then you injure it, you're out a long time. We can't afford that."
The 26-year-old Solano will make his big-league debut, and he'll do so on the same field with his younger brother Donovan, called up by the Marlins last week.
Solano was hitting .250 with two RBI in 13 games for Syracuse, but he only recently returned from a back injury. He'll become the fifth catcher on the Nationals' big-league roster already this season after Opening Day starter Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and replacement Sandy Leon sprained his ankle four innings into his major-league debut.
Solano's promotion comes at the expense of Moore, who arrived late last month amid much hype after blasting seven early home runs at Syracuse but rarely got a chance to take his hacks with the Nationals. In 12 total games, Moore went 3-for-19 with seven strikeouts.
A natural first baseman, Moore did not start a game there with Adam LaRoche firmly holding down his everyday job. He wound up seeing most of his time in left field, starting five games against left-handed pitchers.
"That's not the role you want for a young player: a young, talented prospect, sitting there and playing against a left-hander occasionally," Johnson said. "So he's better off going to Class AAA and playing. We think highly of him, and he's got a great future here."
Moore, who clubbed 31 homers each of the last two seasons at Class A and Class AA, said he gained valuable experience sitting on the bench and learning how the game is played at this big-league level and didn't complain about his lack of playing time.
"It was real tough, but at the same time, we were winning games," he said. "So it wasn't that tough. Everything's better when you're winning. And you can't really put me in there when all the guys are playing great. It's not like we're losing. I definitely understand the situation. We need another player."