Murphy was initially penciled into Dusty Baker’s lineup for tonight’s series finale against the Braves but had to be scratched after telling his manager he was dealing with “tightness” in his right leg.
The veteran second baseman had started all 14 games to date and had a 10-game hitting streak to open the season. Since then, he’s 1-for-16 and has looked noticeably off at the plate.
“He wasn’t following through on the swing,” Baker said. “And then Murph came in late and he says: ‘Hey, I hate to do this.’ But you got to do what you got to do. I tell my guys: Be honest with me. So that’s why we got a 25-man roster. So other guys just got to pick it up.”
Baker expects Murphy to be ready to return Friday night for the opener of a weekend series against the Mets. Grant Green, who has been on the Nationals’ bench for the last week after both Trea Turner and Stephen Drew landed on the disabled list with strained hamstrings, is making his first start tonight in place of Murphy.
“It’s just some leg tightness, but that’s to be expected,” Baker said. “As much as he’s been on base. As much as he had an abbreviated spring. A very abbreviated spring. So it’s probably just a matter of he bends down a lot at second base. He squats to hit. And his legs probably weren’t in the best baseball shape to start the season in the first place.”
Murphy joins Jayson Werth on the bench tonight, the latter dealing with a sore right groin suffered on a check-swing during Wednesday night’s game. Werth, who said he dealt with similar injuries earlier in his career, said he felt better today than he expected.
“Just sore,” he said. “Not pretty sore.”
Werth hopes to be back in a day or two. His return could coincide with Turner’s return from the DL.
Turner played in an extended spring training game in West Palm Beach, Fla., today for the second time, getting five at-bats and tripling in one of them. Baker said the second-year shortstop will join the club in New York on Friday, though he may not start until Saturday to give his leg a rest after playing rehab games the last two days.
“I don’t know if I’ll play him tomorrow, because that’s the rest day that we kind of had planned for him after being so inactive for so long,” Baker said. “But he’ll be available to us later in the game.”
Baker faces a delicate balancing act during this 10-game road trip, trying to give guys proper rest while also recognizing the challenges of facing the Mets and then the Rockies and then the Mets again without any off-days during this stretch.
With that in mind, the Nationals are preparing to potentially call up Jacob Turner as an extra pitcher for next week’s series at Coors Field. Turner pitched only 1 2/3 innings in a start today for Triple-A Syracuse, a planned move to keep the right-hander available to the Nats as soon as Monday.
Asked if Turner could be on the active roster for the series at Colorado, Baker said only: “Perhaps.”