Long known by fans as promising prospects in the organization, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore finally emerged as key contributors for the Nationals in 2012. Lombardozzi appeared in 126 regular season games with the team and made three postseason appearances. Moore played in 75 games and won Game One of the NLDS with a pinch-hit RBI in St. Louis. Both players filled in admirably when others were out due to injury and both proved they belong at the major league level.
Now as they head into 2013, Lombardozzi and Moore look to build on their successful seasons. They each head into Spring Training with more defined roles, but also the expectations to contribute even more. They are both young and could prove themselves for everyday jobs in the near future.
“I look at myself, I know my abilities,” Lombardozzi said. “I think everyone who plays and who is in the big leagues wants to be an everyday guy. I know I can help this team win.”
“I’m coming into this year, whenever my name is in the lineup I am here to help this team win. Whatever Davey has planned, I’m there. I want to win a World Series and that’s the bottom line.”
Lombardozzi has been spending his offseason in the D.C. area, hanging out in Columbia, Maryland where he is from. He described his offseason as short having played in the playoffs and with camp opening in just a matter of days.
Moore has spent his offseason in Brandon, Mississippi with family, including his brother who committed to Mississippi State where he played in college. He said he has done a lot of hunting this winter and claims to have taken down around ten deer since leaving the team in October. Adam LaRoche invited Moore to hunt at his ranch a few weeks ago, but Moore had to decline because the drive from Mississippi to Kansas was too long.
Being “in the woods” as Moore, he wasn’t exactly online all the time checking for baseball news. He did, however, get updates from friends and family.
“I was hearing every now and then what was going on. I was hoping both of those guys would come back, but obviously with [Michael] Morse being gone it opens up a little bit of a position for me to come in to contribute. You try not to get yourself all up in that stuff, but it worked out how it did and I’m fortunate for how it all worked out.”
Seeing Morse traded to the Mariners was bittersweet for Moore who, like the rest of the Nationals, enjoyed his presence in the locker room. He can see, however, the reasoning behind it and how it was for the best for all sides.
“They weren’t going to have him sit on the bench as much as he has done,” he said.
That leaves Moore and Lombardozzi as the first players off the bench and the likely fill-ins if any starters get injured. Last year Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, and Morse all missed significant time because of injuries. The year before LaRoche went down for 119 games. If anyone other than Kurt Suzuki gets hurt, Lombardozzi or Moore will probably find themselves in the starting lineup.
What makes the both of them valuable off the bench is their versatility to play multiple positions. They are both suited best for infield positions, Moore at first with Lombardozzi in the middle, but each spent time in the outfield last year and fared well. Both played exactly 41 games in the outfield in 2012 and neither committed errors while out there. They worked extensively with Bo Porter on adapting to the outfield and can be relied on to fill in moving forward.
The future could hold everyday jobs for both Lombardozzi and Moore, but for now they are secondary pieces on a team playing for a championship. They hope to have plenty of MLB seasons to worry about playing time. In 2013 they will do anything they can to help the greater cause of taking the Washington Nationals to the World Series.
“I like where our team is at right now and I really feel confident,” Moore said. “If you look at us on paper it is just unbelievable our team. I’m excited.”