Murphy, now in the final stages of rehab from October microfracture knee surgery, is scheduled to fly to West Palm Beach on Monday and begin getting at-bats with others from the organization who remain at the club’s complex for extended spring training.
The veteran second baseman has been with the big league club throughout the season’s first 2 1/2 weeks, making the first road trip to Cincinnati and Atlanta along with everyone else so he could continue to rehab with the traveling trainers and medical crew. Now that he’s ready to start getting into game situations, the Nationals believe Murphy is better served transitioning to Florida while they embark on a three-city, nine-game trip to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
That’s obviously an encouraging development for the Nationals, who have missed Murphy’s presence in the middle of their lineup so far this season. But manager Davey Martinez cautioned against the interpretation that this means Murphy is close to playing in big league games. He’ll have to be in West Palm Beach for a while.
“Honestly, I don’t know, but I would think he’d have to treat it like spring training,” Martinez said. “And we’ll see where he’s at. The biggest thing (after) we got this far (is) not to start pushing him. He’s progressing really well. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t push him too fast right now.”
Murphy, who had the unconventional surgery October 20 on his right knee, has been taking batting practice and fielding grounders for some time. He’s added running to his on-field repertoire in recent days. But he hasn’t been involved in anything resembling a game situation yet, and that’s what he’ll now get at extended spring training.
At some point, Murphy will be sent out on a rehab assignment with one of the Nationals’ minor league affiliates. That won’t happen, though, until he’s had ample time to get himself in shape in Florida.
“When you go to spring training, nobody plays every day,” Martinez said. “I can’t say that he won’t try to play every day. Because if you don’t know Murphy, he’s very competitive and wants to play every day. But we really have to monitor his playing time and make sure he’s good to go. We don’t want to rush him right now. Like I said, they went through their due diligence. He’s doing real good. Now’s no time to start pushing him to play every day. Let’s just continue to build him up and get him ready, so when he comes back he’s ready to play.”
Murphy is one of three regulars currently out of the Nationals lineup. Left fielder Adam Eaton is on the 10-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his left ankle; he will travel with the club on this road trip while rehabbing. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is out of the lineup for the second straight day with a sore left big toe, still feeling the effects after fouling a ball off it during Friday game.
X-rays taken of Rendon’s toe Friday night were negative, and he has not gone in for any other tests. Asked today if the DL was a possibility for him, Martinez replied: “At this point, no.”
Outfielder Brian Goodwin, meanwhile, is available off the bench today after getting scratched from Saturday’s lineup with a sore wrist, according to Martinez.