Dusty Baker told reporters on Wednesday night, after Daniel Murphy went 1 for 2 with a double and three walks in Philadelphia that he liked what he saw from his veteran second baseman, who, “had some good at bats,” after “he hadn’t been back in there in a while.”
Murphy missed two games nursing a sore hamstring, but returned against the Phillies, and followed that up with a 3 for 4 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates last night in the series opener in Nationals Park, coming up with a big hit in the ninth inning that sent Nats’ third baseman Anthony Rendon from first to third and set Alejandro De Aza up with a shot to win it with a walk-off single.
“He’s swinging at better pitches, No. 1,” Baker said when asked what he’s seen from Murphy in the last few games, “which — that’s where it starts, and No. 2, his legs look fresh, and he’s a legs hitter, and tonight the ball he hit to center field, that he crushed to center field, that was all legs, and so it’s nice to see Murph uses his legs, nice to see Anthony use his hands again.
“You know each hitter has their own strengths, and it’s certainly great to see Murphy swinging the bat like that and hopefully we can get [Bryce Harper] -- and Jayson [Werth] has been swinging better so, just hoping that things continue for those guys.”
Harper, of course, sat out of last night’s game, after playing in back-to-back contests in Citizens Bank Park, but the Nationals’ skipper assured reporters before the first of four in the nation’s capital, that it was just soreness and no significant issue that led him to sit the 24-year-old right fielder.
Baker wanted to make that last point very clear. Nothing new happened and nothing went wrong in Harper’s return to the lineup.
“No, nothing,” Baker declared, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “No. Don’t be alarmed. Nothing. Again, nothing.”
“You wouldn’t know that he’s been out a period of time,” Baker added, when asked how he thought Harper looked in his return to the lineup.
“Other than his timing on missing some balls, missing the bat head. Which is to be expected. But hopefully he can get that here pretty soon.”
With just three games to work towards getting that timing back before the start of the NLDS with the Chicago Cubs, Harper’s back in the lineup for the second of four with the Pirates.