Murphy good to go, but Baker holding him out (first pitch at 8:15 p.m.)

Daniel Murphy is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight night, but the veteran infielder is available to come off the bench and likely will start Sunday's series finale against the Pirates.

Murphy, who is dealing with a sore left hamstring, actually told Dusty Baker he was well enough to start tonight, but the manager elected to take a more cautious route and hold off for another day.

"It's just from my experience - my own personal experience and experience as a coach and manager - dealing with hamstrings, they tell me they're ready, then I tend to give them an extra day," Baker said. "So he'll probably be ready tomorrow."

Murphy-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgMurphy did jog around the warning track at Nationals Park and took batting practice with his teammates this afternoon, testing his leg.

"This gives him time to go out and test it during BP," Baker said. "Really test it. Where if he was playing, he probably wouldn't expend the energy in the heat and test it."

Murphy is an option off the bench tonight, though Baker would try to use him only in a situation that was less likely to force him to have to run hard: Two outs, with no chance of a double play, or when he didn't need to burn a pinch-runner for him. He'll likely play first base Sunday, reducing some physical demands that he might have at second base.

Murphy hurt himself sliding into second base during the ninth inning of Tuesday's All-Star Game. That occurred after his third at-bat of the game, more than most players received.

That said, the Nationals took no issue with the way Murphy was used by National League manager Terry Collins of the Mets.

"No. He could've done it getting out of the bathtub," Baker said. "If you worry about risk ... you're playing. That's part of the game. You could get hurt. I mean, you've heard of guys getting hurt doing the weirdest things: Picking up the child, hurt their back - or walking up the stairs. It's hard to live your life wondering if you're going to get hurt or not. But you try just to not take any unnecessary risks."

Update: The start of tonight's game will be delayed by rain. No estimated starting time has been announced.

Update II: The rain has stopped, the tarp is being rolled up and the Nats are saying first pitch will be at 8:15 p.m.

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