Daniel Murphy had a polite request/suggestion for reporters on Friday, after the third or fourth time last year’s “glute” or “butt” injury was mentioned: “Let’s just go with — we’ll go with ‘hamstring injury last year,’” Murphy said.
And for the record, Murphy said the glut— hamstring injury is completely healed, and as for how he’s feeling health-wise now?
“This is the part where I tell you guys I’m in the best shape of my life, right?” Murphy joked.
Asked if he had any lingering concerns about the injury, which cost him a few weeks last September, Murphy said he was confident he was past it by the time he played in the NLDS.
“I think they did a great job kind of getting it right by the end of the season and the thing is I played five games at the end of the year and I didn’t really feel anything at all, so I’ve tested it and I’m not really concerned about it,” Murphy said.
“I also think that we were fortunate enough to clinch the division earlier so if we would have been in a division race I would have been able to play.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time this year at Spring Training on Friday, Murphy talked at length about his first season in D.C., which saw the Washington Nationals’ infielder put up a .347/.390/.595 line with 47 doubles, 25 home runs and 156 wRC+ in 142 games and 582 plate appearances, over which he was worth 5.5 fWAR.
Murphy picked up where he left off with the Mets in 2015 and his first postseason run, and built on his success he enjoyed in New York.
“You never think you’re going to go and hit whatever .340 in this league,” Murphy said.
“This is a tough league, so you never think you’re going to end up doing that, but I was fortunate to kind of lay the groundwork in New York and then coming here with Rick [Schu] and Jacque Jones and continue that. You just try to hit it as hard as you can. It’s really, really difficult to hit a ball at 95 mph, but if you can get it off the barrel at 100 [mph] I can speak from personal experience, it’s really hard to catch, so that’s kind of the goal I think is to try to knuckle it, and hit it as hard as you can.”
Murphy’s been doing some reading this winter too. He said he’s been looking into exit velocity and launch angles, and even mentioned discussing what he’s read with Ryan Zimmerman, who struggled offensively last season in spite of the fact that he barreled it up with regularity, with the 13th-highest average exit velocity in the majors in 2016.
“You want to hit the ball optimally about 25 degrees at 98 mph,” Murphy said, “those are home runs, but Ryan’s exit velocity last year, I read articles on it, was borderline elite, so I think that he’s just looking at it like, if I can take the already elite skill of bat-to-ball and exit velocity off the barrel and get it at the right angle, now we’re starting to do some damage and so I’m excited to see how he works this year, because he hit the ball really hard last year, he hit the ball extremely hard last year, so it’s really hard to hit the ball on the barrel in this league. He’s already kind of doing the hard part, so I’m excited to see -- I don’t think it needs to be big adjustments either, but little adjustments.”
Murphy was asked if he felt the need to make any adjustments to the hard-nosed or “old school” approach to the game he’s always played with now that he’s dealing with the hamstring issue which he told reporters this winter could be recurring if not managed carefully.
“I don’t think so at all and part of that is too it’s kind of the reason I feel like I’ve been able to stay in the big leagues, so I can’t go altering what I do, and so I don’t think it will change my style of play as much,” he explained.
“I feel good. I feel like [Strength & Conditioning Coach] Matt [Eiden] and [Executive Director of Medical Services] Harvey [Sharman] and the training staff and strength staff put together a really good offseason program focusing on getting ready for the season,” Murphy explained.
“A lot of lower body stuff and coupled with some of the work I was doing at home I think it went really well and I feel ready for the season and I’m excited about the work we’re going to be able to do down here in our new facility.”