NEW YORK - Davey Martinez met with Daniel Murphy earlier today to check on the veteran’s health status coming out of his season debut Tuesday night. Murphy told him his surgically repaired knee felt fine, but the manager probably didn’t need that confirmation. By simply watching Murphy’s postgame routine, he knew he was good to go.
Fifteen minutes after the Nationals’ 3-0 loss to the Yankees was completed, Murphy could be heard hacking at pitches in the batting tunnel outside the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. And it continued for at least 20 minutes.
And by the time this afternoon rolled around, Murphy was back on the field taking an early round of batting practice with Bryce Harper and Pedro Severino, offering all the evidence Martinez needed to put him back in the lineup tonight.
“If he’s got that much energy to take that many extra swings, I think he’s feeling pretty good,” the manager said. “He’s staying on his feet. Last night, he hit for a while. And he came out early today and hit. To me, that’s a good sign that he’s healthy and feeling good.”
Murphy went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his 2018 debut, nearly eight months removed from microfracture surgery on his right knee. Despite a few better-looking swings that resulted in foul balls in his final at-bat, overall the 33-year-old looked rusty.
“He said his timing was a little off,” Martinez said. “He wants to make sure he’s good to go today.”
Physically, Murphy said he emerged from the game feeling strong. So he’s back in the No. 5 spot in the Nationals lineup tonight, again serving as DH and hoping to notch his first hit of the season.
“Talked to him today, and he felt good,” Martinez said. “Even last night he felt good. He’s ready to play, so we’re going to play him. It’s nice to have that bat in the lineup.”
Harper, meanwhile, appears to have suffered no significant ill effects from the pair of pitches that struck him during Tuesday’s game. Harper was hit in the right elbow by a C.C. Sabathia fastball in the fifth, then in the left big toe by a Dellin Betances slider in the eighth, the latter of which forced him out of the game.
X-rays on Harper’s toe came back negative, the outfielder said, and he told Martinez he was good to return to action tonight.
Harper is playing center field for the second time in a week, shifting to the middle of the outfield so both Juan Soto and Adam Eaton can also play. This arrangement may stick whenever Martinez wants to sit Michael A. Taylor as he is tonight against right-hander Sonny Gray.
“For right now, as we get Eaton going and see where he’s at, continues to play and get a lot more playing time, I like Harp in center,” Martinez said. “He gets really good jumps. And he sees the ball a lot better over there.”
Other injury updates ...
* Ryan Zimmerman is on this trip with the club, evidence that he’s not yet ready to begin a rehab assignment. The veteran first baseman, out since May 12 with a strained oblique, is expected to start ramping up his activities next week when the team returns home.
“It’s been a slow process, but he’s getting better,” Martinez said. “We’re going to get him through this week and see where he’s at.”
* Stephen Strasburg did not make the road trip and is not participating in any baseball activities yet since going on the disabled list over the weekend with right shoulder inflammation.
“We’re going to take it day to day and see where he’s at and get his strength back, No. 1, and then go from there.”
* Jeremy Hellickson is farther along in his rehab from a strained hamstring, having begun throwing in recent days.
“I think he threw a little bit, but not much,” Martinez said. “But we want to make sure his strength is really good before he gets back on a mound.”