Murphy scratched from lineup, Madson still has finger pain

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals announced their starting lineup about 3 1/2 hours before tonight's game at Petco Park, standard procedure. A few minutes later, they had to announce a change to that lineup, which unfortunately also has become standard procedure for this injury-riddled ballclub.

sidebar-Murphy-grey-running.jpgThe latest: Daniel Murphy, who was scratched from tonight's lineup after the second baseman admitted to manager Dusty Baker he's been playing less than 100 percent in recent days.

There was no formal declaration of an injury for Murphy, only Baker saying "he's just kind of sore." Murphy hasn't looked particularly comfortable running in the field or on the bases recently, and Baker certainly picked up on some signs, prompting him to ask his veteran if he needed a day off.

"I just thought that it would be better," Baker said. "I could see he wasn't moving real, real smoothly the last couple days. So part of my job is to notice - whether it's personality changes, physical changes, whatever I see - differences between one day to the next. And Murph doesn't come and tell me. I'm going to have to go and ask him. Well, actually tell him and not ask him. Because Murph wants to play. But it didn't take long, and he kind of agreed with me. That showed me that he was just ailing a little bit."

Baker had already planned to sit Murphy for Sunday's series finale against the Padres, taking advantage of Monday's off-day to give him a full 48 hours of rest. Now he plans for Murphy to return Sunday, with Howie Kendrick instead getting a rest.

Baker is making a more conscious effort to monitor Murphy late this season after watching the second baseman wear down in 2016 and need to miss the final two weeks of games before the playoffs began.

"This is the time of year," Baker said. "Like last year, I've got to really watch him, because he does a lot of squatting at second base, he hits out of a crouch. Last year, he was new to me, so I didn't really know the signs. Now I recognize some signs. So we've just got to keep him healthy and make sure nothing happens again."

Meanwhile, Ryan Madson attempted to play catch today, the first time the reliever has done so since he had to cut short a throwing session Monday due to a sprain in his right index finger. Madson didn't look comfortable during the light-toss session, stopping twice to talk with head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, and admitted afterward he still felt discomfort in the finger.

Madson didn't know what exactly the next course of action would be, but he was hopeful today's throwing session would go smoothly and offer evidence he's fine.

"That's when I'll know where we're at," he said Friday afternoon. "On Monday, playing at 20 percent effort, I felt it right away. So it'll show its ugly face right away if it's still there. But it's just a sprain. Everybody's sprained something. They said nothing was torn, no damage in there. So that's good."

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