Nats expect Murphy to go in NLDS Gm. 1

Second baseman (strained buttocks) fully participates in Tuesday's workout

October 4th, 2016

WASHINGTON -- fully participated in the Nationals' team workout on Tuesday afternoon at Nationals Park, their first in preparation for the start of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Friday (FS1, 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT).

Murphy hit on the field during batting practice, took grounders at second base and did some running drills on the field after the rest of the team finished.

The 31-year-old has not started in a game since Sept. 17 because of a strained buttocks, although he has made three pinch-hit appearances since then. Washington reiterated its stance that Murphy would be ready for the start of the postseason.

"I think he's going to be ready for Game 1," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I feel confident about that."

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Rizzo even shot down the idea of bringing Murphy back at first base to ease the stress level on him in the field.

"No, I think we're going to play it pretty straight-up, unless he shows us something different," Rizzo said. "We're confident that he's ready to play and [that he's] the old Murphy."

The old Murphy, the 2016 version, anyway, was one of the most productive hitters in the Majors. He batted .347/.390/.595 with 25 homers, 104 RBIs and a 156wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) that has made him a candidate for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. He has been a stalwart the Nationals' offense cannot afford to lose, especially with its lineup depth weakened after catcher ' season-ending ACL tear.

Although this injury hampered Murphy over the final weeks of the season, hitting has never been the issue. He spent time in the cages and took batting practice on the field twice this past weekend. The Nationals have been worried about the injury hampering mobility in the field and running the bases.

"I know he's working hard toward [being ready Friday]," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I was watching him run, which is probably the biggest obstacle that we're trying to overcome. He looked pretty good at second base.

"We didn't have him range very far right or left, but then I saw him running with [executive director of medical services] Harvey [Sharman], one of our trainers, and he looked pretty good. He's come a long ways from where he was. He was running cones. Like, he would accelerate, decelerate, then walk, and then do the same thing over and over again. You know, you're trying to get his legs strong, and then tomorrow we'll ramp it up some more before we make a true evaluation."