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Nationals expect Daniel Murphy to be ready for start of NLDS

Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Tuesday about the progress Daniel Murphy has made over the last few weeks.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

By the time he takes the field for Game 1 of the NLDS, assuming he’s healthy and able to return, Daniel Murphy will have been out of action for twenty days, aside from three pinch hit appearances. The left buttock strain which limited Murphy down the stretch still has not completely healed, apparently, but both General Manager Mike Rizzo and Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker said yesterday they think the 31-year-old infielder will be ready for the division series.

“I think he’s going to be ready for Game 1,” Rizzo said, as quoted by Washington Times’ writer Todd Dybas. “I feel confident about that.”

“I know he’s working hard towards it,” Baker said, when he met with reporters after the Nationals’ first workout of the week on Tuesday.

“I was late here because I was watching him run, which is probably the biggest obstacle that we’re trying to overcome. But he looked pretty good at second base. We didn’t have him range very far right or left, and then I saw him running with Harvey, one of our trainers, so, he looked pretty good. He’s come a long ways from where he was.”

Baker had previously stated that he was glad the Nationals shut Murphy down when they did because, “... if he’d have played any longer he would have probably been out for the entire postseason.”

Baker said last week he was confident Murphy could step back in and pick up where he left off.

“His swing is pretty simple,” Baker said. “He’s been hitting. It doesn’t hurt him to hit and he’s been throwing. How many at bats he needs? It’s a toss-up between at bats and him getting extra days to get healthy and get well.”

Murphy’s teammate, Bryce Harper, said the same on Tuesday.

“He could probably not see a ball for six months and go out there and hit a double right then. His swing is so easy,” Harper said, as quoted by CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Chase Hughes.

“He knows himself so well that he doesn't need much. So take three weeks off, face [Clayton] Kershaw, why not?"

Murphy tested himself on Tuesday, Baker explained. “He was running cones. He would accelerate, decelerate, then walk and then do the same thing over and over again.

“Trying to get that and his legs strong and then tomorrow we’ll ramp it up some more before we make a true evaluation.”

Asked if there was any chance Murphy would not be in the lineup on Friday afternoon, Baker said, “I don’t know. I can’t say that. I’m sure there’s always a possibility, but if it wasn’t then I would say he’s going to be ready today. So like I said, we’re working towards that, and he’s on the way.”

Murphy’s health is, of course, just one of the topics being discussed as the Nationals try to settle on their roster for the NLDS.

There are still some decisions to make before they announce the official roster.

“That’s what we’re wrestling with right now,” Baker said. “You don’t know whether to carry extra bench players or carry extra relievers or an extra left-hander. We’re trying to determine, trying to get the roster — I mean, I don’t think any roster is completely the way you want it, but we’re going to try to get it as close as we can to fill as many holes or possibilities as we can. It is what it is. It definitely hurts to have some key guys hurt, but again, we’ve just got to find a way.”