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Murphy delivers RBI single for first 2018 hit

Nationals to keep slugger at designated hitter through weekend series in Toronto
MLB.com @JamalCollier

TORONTO -- The Nationals plan on keeping Daniel Murphy as their designated hitter for the rest of this weekend's series against the Blue Jays to help ease his workload as he works his way back from the disabled list.

Murphy returned from the DL on Tuesday night in New York, and though he did not collect a hit in his first two games of the season after returning from microfracture knee surgery, which sidelined him for about eight months, he came through in a key spot for his first hit in Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, smacking an RBI single in the eighth inning to cut into Toronto's lead. 

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TORONTO -- The Nationals plan on keeping Daniel Murphy as their designated hitter for the rest of this weekend's series against the Blue Jays to help ease his workload as he works his way back from the disabled list.

Murphy returned from the DL on Tuesday night in New York, and though he did not collect a hit in his first two games of the season after returning from microfracture knee surgery, which sidelined him for about eight months, he came through in a key spot for his first hit in Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, smacking an RBI single in the eighth inning to cut into Toronto's lead. 

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Murphy spent his first two games at DH, but he also maintained that if he felt healthy enough he could try and return to second base this weekend. He went to manager Dave Martinez prior to Friday's game to tell him he felt healthy enough to do so, but Martinez wanted to err on the side of caution instead.

"I told him, 'Look, we had a plan going into this week; let's stick to it,'" Martinez said.

Martinez likely wants to stay away from exposing Murphy's surgically repaired knee to the turf at Rogers Centre, so his return to the field will come Monday, when the team opens an eight-game homestand with a doubleheader against the Yankees. The biggest test for Murphy this weekend will be playing three consecutive days, something he did not do during his rehab assignment.

"He hasn't played every day," Martinez said. "The days off definitely helped, but let's see how he reacts."

Worth noting
• Catcher Raudy Read will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg as he serves the end of his 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

• The Nationals announced they have renewed their contract with Class A Short-Season Auburn through 2020.

• Washington signed its third-round pick, Reid Schaller, and fifth-round pick, Gage Canning, to slot value ($551,100 and $308,900, respectively). The Nats have now signed six of their top 10 picks.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Daniel Murphy