Murphy cheered by Nats fans in return to DC

September 6th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- The Cubs didn't arrive in D.C. until very early Thursday morning after a late night in Milwaukee, and even though probably felt more rested than his teammates, he was still dealing with his own disorientation.

"I slept in my own bed last night," Murphy said. "But I came in and I'm playing a road game."

After nearly three seasons with the Nationals, Murphy was back in Washington on Thursday for the first time since he was placed on waivers and traded to the Cubs on Aug. 21. While the deal has paid immediate dividends for Chicago -- the team is 11-4 since the move -- Murphy still feels a connection to the Nats.

"There's definitely emotions," he said. "I think of all the relationships I've been able to build and my family's been able to build over the last 2 1/2 seasons, coming up on three years -- relationships that I cherish, that my family cherishes, that we'll take long beyond my playing days."

Murphy has been exactly what the Cubs were hoping for since the deal, providing production at the top of the lineup, a position not familiar to the veteran hitter. The second baseman has slotted into the leadoff spot more times during his brief tenure in Chicago (14 starts) than during his entire career up until the trade (12).

"My first thought was to continue to have good at-bats," Murphy said. "That's really the only thing in my control. My second thought was that it was going to be a lot of at-bats. I'll get more than everybody else."

Murphy said he wasn't expecting any sort of reaction from Nationals fans during the series, and that once the game started, it would be business as usual. However, the Nationals did play a video honoring Murphy's time with the team before the game, and Murphy tipped his cap to cheering fans. He also received a nice ovation before his first at-bat.

"I never expect to get cheered. You just come out and try to do your job and play as hard as you can," he said. "If there's applause, I'll be humbled by it. My job is to come in and play baseball every day. The Chicago Cubs claimed me, I was traded here, and I'm trying to do as much as I can to help us try to win the pennant and the World Series."

Morrow hopeful for return

While manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that there was "barely" enough time for reliever to return from the right biceps inflammation that has sidelined the pitcher since July 18, Morrow is determined to get back on the active roster.

Sunday figures to be a huge step, as Morrow will throw off a mound for the first time since the injury, with a tentative plan to return to the team on Sept. 15 or 16.

"We have a date for when I would be returning and I'm trying to get there," Morrow said Thursday. "I haven't thrown off the mound again -- that's the next step. That'll tell me a lot, and everything from there on out will be toward returning. That's what we've had our eye on. I know there's not much time left. There's not time for a rehab assignment or anything like that."

The Cubs have approached Morrow's absence at closer with a committee approach, and while Maddon would love to have Morrow back at his disposal, the team is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"Every time he goes out and throws, wait the day, evaluate where he's at and try to get to the next phase of the rehab," Maddon said. "One appearance at a time, one rehab moment at a time, and then we'll try to figure it out."

Injury updates

Outfielder was out of the starting lineup Thursday, one day after complaining of back tightness while still hitting a home run in the victory over the Brewers. Maddon said the injury was "truly day to day" and that he had yet to speak to Schwarber about it. Maddon had no update on (right hamstring), who did not make the trip to Washington.

Velazquez, Abbott earn Minor League honors

The Cubs announced that outfielder Nelson Velazquez (Class A Short Season Eugene) and pitcher Cory Abbott (Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach) were the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August, respectively.

Velazquez, 19, hit .290 with seven doubles, two triples, five homers, 14 RBIs and seven stolen bases in his final 28 games of the regular season. Abbott, 22, went 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA in five August starts, striking out 29 batters while walking 10. He limited opposing hitters to a .188 batting average.