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Braves legend Murphy to coach first for USA

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Dale Murphy watched the Braves take batting practice before Friday's Spring Training opener at Champion Stadium, he was reminded that he will be pretty close to the plate when he serves as Team USA's first base coach in this year's World Baseball Classic.

"I was looking down at that first base coaching box and thinking that isn't that far away for an old man," the 56-year-old Murphy said with a laugh.

Still one of the most beloved players in Atlanta history, Murphy will handle double duties through the first four games of the Braves' Grapefruit League schedule. He will don the uniform to serve as a guest instructor during batting practice. Once the game begins, he will be in the press box providing analysis on the radio broadcast.

Murphy's baseball tour will take him back to his Utah home early next week and then to Phoenix a few days later for the start of Team USA's training camp. He is hoping to remain on the road until the Classic finals are played in San Francisco on March 19.

The U.S. team will be managed by Joe Torre, who served as Atlanta's manager when Murphy won his consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1982 and '83. Other former Braves on the staff include pitching coach Greg Maddux and hitting coach Gerald Perry.

"It's going to be a really neat experience," Murphy said of being on the U.S. coaching staff. "I haven't been in that capacity for years. When Joe asked me to do it, I couldn't be more excited. The guys are excited and the players are excited. We want to do better. We want to compete. It's going to be fun. I'm really looking forward to it."