On Wednesday afternoon, Dusty Baker updated reporters on Daniel Murphy’s progress as the second baseman works his way back from the left buttock strain which kept him out of the lineup for the last couple weeks of the regular season.
Murphy has been working out every day as he attempts to get back in time for the start of Washington’s NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers tomorrow night.
Murphy ran the bases on Wednesday, another step on his way back to live action.
He wasn’t, however, interested in speculating about whether he’ll be good to go for the start of the Division Series on Friday.
“I don’t like trying to predict the future,” he told reporters, including Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes.
“I’ve been really poor at it in my career,” Murphy said. “I felt really good today. I think today was a step in the right direction. See how we respond tomorrow. Get some work in tomorrow. See Friday.”
Baker, who has talked often about the importance of Murphy’s legs for his swing, said the injury hasn’t affected what he can do at the plate, so he’s not worried about the 31-year-old infielder returning after such a long time off if he’s able to get back.
“It might be an issue as far as timing is concerned,” Baker explained. “He said it didn't bother him when he's been hitting the whole time. We are facing some tough left-handers. He'll be facing the toughest of whoever comes out of that bullpen. He was going to be doing that in the first place. But would you take 80% of Daniel Murphy or 100% of somebody else?
“This guy knows what it's like to be in the playoffs and to be a playoff hero. He has a pretty good idea and he knows his body. He's been working hard at this. He's been working so hard at this. I'm proud of how he worked and how he wants to come back. We're going to give him that opportunity.”
Murphy, of course, took it to another level in the postseason last October, hitting two doubles and seven home runs in 14 games, over which he put up a .328/.391/.724 line as the New York Mets battled their way to a loss in the World Series.
Baker watched the run Murphy went on in his role as an analyst.
“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “I was at TBS for a couple of those games. I just thought 'Nah, he can't do it again.' And the next thing you know, he does it again.
“Then it's like 'Nah, he can't do it this time again.' And then he does it again. They wouldn't have gotten there if it weren't for Daniel Murphy. It would have made it tough on us to get where we wanted to go without Daniel Murphy. Not only at the plate, but also his leadership on the field. His grit and his grind, that can give other guys motivation to extend. In the playoffs and in the World Series, almost everybody has to overextend.”
In the first year of his 3-year/$37.5M deal with Washington, Murphy hit a career-high 47 doubles and 25 HRs, posting a .347/.390/.595 line in 142 games and 582 PAs.
He was an integral part of the Nationals’ success. Will he be back in time for the start of the NLDS? Baker and GM Mike Rizzo have both said they expect him to return, but it’s not official yet.
Murphy’s back on the field this afternoon in the last workout before the start of the Division Series. We’ll update with more info from Dusty Baker after he speaks to the reporters in the nation’s capital this afternoon...
Murphy doing more extensive work at second base today. More grounders to his right, testing his legs more than he has til now.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 6, 2016