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Thriving in leadoff role, Moore showcasing speed

@gregjohnsmlb
September 7, 2019

HOUSTON -- Five months ago, Dylan Moore was trying to land a roster spot with the Mariners as their utility man. Fast forward to September, and the 27-year-old rookie finds himself leading off and starting at shortstop against an Astros team with one of the best records in baseball. Not

HOUSTON -- Five months ago, Dylan Moore was trying to land a roster spot with the Mariners as their utility man. Fast forward to September, and the 27-year-old rookie finds himself leading off and starting at shortstop against an Astros team with one of the best records in baseball.

Not even Moore imagined this scenario, but he is taking the opportunity and running with it. Literally.

Moore has embraced the chance to showcase his speed, stealing four bases in the past three games entering Saturday’s game vs. the Astros. It helps that he’s getting on base, batting .300 (6-for-20) with three walks over his past five starts as he fills in for the injured J.P. Crawford at shortstop.

Only in the past three games has manager Scott Servais moved Moore into the leadoff role, despite two more established leadoff hitters in Mallex Smith and Dee Gordon on Seattle's roster.

“He’s playing really well,” Servais said of Moore. “I like how his at-bats have been playing out. He’s played well at shortstop for not having played there a ton this year. The quality of at-bats have been really good the last 10 games or so. He’s getting on base, doing what we need to do and he’s got a little bit of sock at the top of the lineup, too.”

As for the aggressive approach on the basepaths? Moore has good speed and stole 92 bases in five Minor League seasons, including 42 in 128 games in between Class A Advanced and low Class A in 2016. But prior to stealing successfully his last four attempts entering Saturday, he’d been thrown out nine times in his first 16 attempts this season in his first year in the big leagues.

How much is Moore enjoying the new opportunity to run while sitting atop Seattle's lineup?

“I enjoy being safe more,” Moore said with a smile. “It’s just being aggressive in that leadoff role and trying to score runs to help us win games.”

Moore is the fourth Mariners rookie to steal a base in three consecutive games, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Donell Nixon (’87) and Phil Bradley (’84).

“His feel to run and steal is pretty good,” Servais said. “He’s still learning, like a lot of our guys, game situations, the score, counts, when to take a shot or back off. He’s still in the learning mode, but he can run. He’s fast, explosive, his first step is very quick.”

Smith tops the Majors with 40 stolen bases this season and Gordon -- who led MLB in three of the previous five years -- currently has 21. Moore is quick to point out their willingness to help him hone the craft has been a big part of his recent improvement.

“It’s choosing better times to go and learning from Dee and Mallex, who are pretty good basestealers,” Moore said. “They can pick up on things like the pitchers’ tells and first move and catchers’ tendencies. [First-base coach Chris Prieto] does a great job, as well, with guys' pickoff moves and stuff like that. Gathering all that information and using it to my advantage all helps.”

Worth noting

• Catcher Omar Narvaez was back in the Mariners' lineup on Saturday at designated hitter after sitting out the previous four games with a back issue.

• Servais said reports were good on Crawford, who is in Seattle rehabbing a strained right hamstring that has sidelined him since last Sunday.

“He’s feeling much better, so that’s moving in a good direction,” Servais said. “Hopefully, we can get him back maybe at the end of the next homestand. We’ll see. I’m not involved with the rehab, but looking at the reports, I’ve got my fingers crossed. If we can get him back the last couple weeks, that would be great.”

• Right fielder Mitch Haniger has received a second opinion on the back issue that sidetracked his return from a ruptured testicle, but Servais said he hadn’t talked to Haniger yet and couldn’t provide any update on that situation.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.