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Daniel Murphy starts at second base for Nationals, is he back out there for good?

Washington’s Nationals got their second baseman back at second for the first time as a starter on Sunday, they could really use the Daniel Murphy they know at the plate too...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Martinez seemed less than enthusiastic about the state of Daniel Murphy’s surgically-repaired knee when he discussed the decision to opt against using the 33-year-old infielder in a pinch hit spot in the eighth inning on Saturday night because he didn’t want Murphy to play the field.

“Murphy was just an emergency guy. I didn’t want to put him in the field,” Martinez said.

He told reporters before the finale with the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday that the decision he made was based on conversations with Murphy about his availability.

“He did say to me yesterday, ‘In a pinch, if you need me, I’m available,’” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, “... and to me, just getting him to pinch-hit and not put him in the field was the best thing for yesterday.”

Things changed, however, and when Martinez made out his lineup card for the fourth game in Citizens Bank Park this weekend, Murphy was penciled in starting at second base for the first time since he returned from offseason knee surgery.

“He came to me last night after the game and said he felt a lot better,” Martinez said early on Sunday. “He’s our second baseman; he’s back.

“It is time for him to go out there and play second base and see what he can do.

“Communication is going to be the key here. If you think you need days off we will give you days off. He said he was good to go today.”

“I felt better last night,” Murphy told reporters before the series finale with the Phillies, after connecting for a pinch hit double when he did get in Saturday’s game in the ninth.

“Hopefully I can continue that today,” he said, noting that going into the whole process with is surgery, he wasn’t really sure what to expect.

“To be honest with you I had no expectations what this would be like,” he said, explaining that though he’d had injuries before, he never had surgery.

The good news, Murphy played the entire 13 innings of Sunday’s game at second base. He wasn’t really tested, throwing late to first on one potential double play, that wasn’t going to be close no matter what he did.

At the plate, the veteran infielder went 0 for 5 with a walk and a run scored in what ended up a 4-3 loss, leaving him with a .182/.224/.218 line, two doubles, and two runs scored.

Murphy returned to the lineup earlier this month, returned to second (as a starter) Sunday.

As GM Mike Rizzo noted last week, he’s still essentially going through Spring Training. When will Daniel Murphy get back to being Daniel Murphy?