Murphy admits he can't run well enough to play yet

Daniel Murphy today confirmed what was pretty obvious to anyone who watched him work out at Nationals Park yesterday afternoon: His surgically repaired right knee is still in pain when he tries to run, which has left his potential return from the disabled list up in the air.

"I'm not in a position where I can run right now to play," the veteran second baseman said in his first session with reporters since he returned from extended spring training earlier this week.

sidebar-Murphy-white-tall.jpgMurphy, who had microfracture surgery on his right knee October 20, tried to get through a full workout yesterday afternoon. He looked comfortable taking batting practice, and he moved around well fielding grounders hit to both directions. But he ran from the plate to first base at less-than-full speed, and then after spending several minutes on the ground getting his knee worked on by a trainer, he attempted to run to first one more time and had to pull up after 45 feet.

"As far as the running goes, I still have a little bit of a hitch in my giddy-up," he said. "So I'm not running the way I would if I were 100 percent."

Doctors told Murphy from the outset there was no guaranteed timetable for his recovery, with much less history of baseball players returning from microfracture surgery than other more common procedures like Tommy John surgery or a torn ACL. That has added to the frustrating nature of his rehab, which has now reached the 6 1/2-month mark.

"There's gauges of what people have done before, but it's just going to be unique to the individual," Murphy said. "I never really had a set date that I wanted to be back. I think any athlete would say this: I want to be playing yesterday. That's my set date."

Murphy spent two weeks at extended spring training in West Palm Beach but admitted he couldn't watch the Nationals on TV often because it made him anxious. He realizes how much his team could use his services right now, with Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton also on the DL.

"I think a level of frustration is probably reasonable for me to say about me right now," he said. "I want to play. I see these guys competing so hard each night. To not be able to do that with them, it's frustrating."

Murphy, though, insists he won't try to rush himself back. Even if he feels comfortable at the plate and in the field, he won't return if he can't run.

"I only want to come off the DL once," he said. "I've said that before. I'm no good to anybody if I come off and I'm limited and I can't play on a daily basis and team has to carry me as a passenger. I want to be prepared so when I come off the DL, I only do it once."

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