Murphy not ready for season debut yet

ATLANTA - The Nationals don't know yet when Daniel Murphy will make his season debut, but they seem to have conceded it won't come at the start of this week's homestand.

Murphy, who has spent the last week playing six rehab games for Double-A Harrisburg, is scheduled to be back in Washington on Tuesday to be evaluated by doctors and meet with club officials. Despite some initial hope he might be ready to be activated by then, manager Davey Martinez suggested today that won't happen.

"I think we're still a ways, but we'll see," Martinez said. "We want him to keep progressing, and he's doing that."

murphy-nlds-workout-sidebar.jpgMurphy has been able to play a full nine innings at second base for Harrisburg, and he's 5-for-24 with a double, a homer and six RBIs. But he continues to look uncomfortable running, according to video of his games and reports of those who have watched him in person.

The Nationals have known for some time that was the final, albeit key, step in Murphy's return from October microfracture surgery on his right knee. He has been comfortable at the plate, and he has been able to play in the field, but he has not been able to run without losing the hitch in his gait that has been present for several months.

"For me, that's the whole thing about these rehabs: It's going to take him time to get back on his feet every day," Martinez said. "Some days are better than others, and we get that. But the good part is, he's playing every day. One day, it'll come all together, and all of a sudden he's doing really well. I'm not worried about it."

The Nationals don't believe Murphy is at risk of further injury by playing, and so there doesn't appear to be a need to pull him off the rehab assignment. The question, as it has been clear for some time now, is whether he can capably play in big league games without being able to run 100 percent. Martinez suggested the final hurdle Murphy needs to cross is more mental than physical.

"I think it's more getting that mindset that he's OK, and that the knee's fine," the manager said. "When he needs a day off, he's going to get a day off. But he's playing every day. So we'll see what happens from here."

Meanwhile, the Nationals are without Matt Adams in their starting lineup today after the first baseman fouled a ball off the top of his right foot Saturday. X-rays taken of Adams' foot were negative, but the foot remained swollen and sore this morning.

Adams was due to receive treatment pregame and then decide if he's able to pinch-hit later this afternoon.

"He was sore after the game last night," Martinez said. "So I told him after the game: 'We won't start you. But if you can come off the bench, it would be great.'"

Bryce Harper also is out of today's lineup, but there's no physical reason for it. Martinez simply wanted to give him a chance to rest and take advantage of Monday's off-day as well.

"He'll get two days now, which is nice," the manager said. "Hopefully we don't need him, but he's available."

Martinez is using a similar tact with Pedro Severino, who isn't starting behind the plate for the second straight day, with rookie (and Atlanta-area native) Spencer Kieboom making a rare second straight start. Severino will catch Tuesday night's game against the Rays.

"He's played a lot, and I just want to give him a few days in a row off," Martinez said. "And hey, Kieboom did great yesterday, so why not let him play in front of his family and friends?"

Left-hander Tim Collins is expected back Tuesday after his wife gave birth. Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who was promoted from Harrisburg to take Collins' spot in the bullpen, last started on Thursday and is available in relief today if needed.

Hellickson out after two batters with hamstring in...
Game 58 lineups: Nats at Braves

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to