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Dusty Baker on Daniel Murphy, the Washington Nationals’ depth plus more before series with Houston Astros...

Dusty Baker has talked often recently about getting all his players to the finish line, and doing what he can to keep them healthy and sharp...

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Murphy was scuffling, in a 1 for 11 stretch over three games that followed back-to-back, two-hit games against the Los Angeles Angels last week in Washington. Dusty Baker saw the signs and noticed his second baseman needed a break, so he gave him a night off on Saturday after he’d initially penciled the 32-year-old infielder in the lineup against the San Diego Padres in Petco Park.

“I could see he wasn’t moving real, real smoothly the last couple days,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“So part of my job is to notice - whether it’s personality changes, physical changes, whatever I see - differences between one day to the next. And Murph doesn’t come and tell me. I’m going to have to go and ask him. Well, actually tell him and not ask him.

“Because Murph wants to play. But it didn’t take long, and he kind of agreed with me. That showed me that he was just ailing a little bit.”

Murphy talked on Sunday afternoon about the contributions from the likes of Adrian Sanchez, Wilmer Difo, and Andrew Stevenson when asked about getting the night off on Saturday by MASN’s Dan Kolko.

Murphy discussed how important the roster’s depth is so that everyone can stay fresh.

“It’s a deep ballclub,” Murphy told Kolko, “... and I think from each players’ perspective, it not only helps to keep the everyday guys healthy and rested, but it allows the next guys up to stay sharp as well.”

Murphy came back on Sunday with a 1 for 3 game in which he walked, scored a run, and drove in two in the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Padres.

Baker told reporters he thought the day off clearly benefited his veteran second baseman.

“Oh, yeah,” Baker said. “Definitely. His concentration was good. Back to normal, and his swing plane was on time, and his quickness was there, you could see it, so that’s why -- we talked about it yesterday before the game, and so hopefully he and everybody else will be ready when we get to Houston.”

As Baker explained last week, he’s going to do what he can over the last month plus of the regular season to keep his starters healthy and his bench bats sharp, as a return to postseason action approaches.

Michael A. Taylor just returned from an oblique injury. Jayson Werth and Trea Turner started rehab assignments last night, and the Nationals are going to let them get in plenty of work rather than rushing them back up, so, the Nats’ skipper said, he has to continue to his monitor veterans like Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman, and try not to lean on them too much.

“I have to continue to give them rest and have the other guys pick it up,” he explained.

“They’ve been carrying most of the weight, most of the year, and I’m not going to put any more weight on them. I was hoping we could take some weight off of them.”

Murphy finished the four-game series against the Padres with a .325/.381/.561 line, 36 doubles, 20 home runs, 37 walks, strikeouts, and 137 wRC+ in 112 games and 467 plate appearances, over which he’s been worth 3.2 fWAR.