NEW YORK - As they prepare to open a two-game series against the owners of the best record in the majors, the Nationals at long last have their best pure hitter in the lineup for the first time this season.
Daniel Murphy, finally recovered from October microfracture surgery on his right knee, has been activated off the disabled list and will play tonight when the Nationals open an interleague series against the Yankees.
Having completed a 10-game rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg, convincing both club officials and himself that his knee was satisfactory, Murphy made the trip with the Nationals to New York and now has rejoined the active roster for the first time in 2018.
Fellow infielder Adrian Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.
Murphy will serve as designated hitter tonight in the American League park, facing Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who has retired the veteran second baseman in each of their four prior head-to-head at-bats.
When Murphy underwent the surgery October 20, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he was hopeful he would be ready to open the season on time. By the time spring training arrived, it was clear Murphy needed more time.
He opened the season on the DL, eventually returned to West Palm Beach for extended spring training, then finally began his rehab assignment with Harrisburg. In 10 games with the Senators over the last two weeks, Murphy went 9-for-37 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
Through it all, Murphy never looked 100 percent comfortable running, but doctors have told him he’s not in danger of sustaining further damage to his knee, and so he’s going to give it a try in major league games, even if it doesn’t always look smooth.