WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Daniel Murphy acknowledged it might sound a bit crazy before he said it, but if he has trouble sleeping, he visualizes at-bats. There are few players in the game who enjoy hitting as much as Murphy, and he is constantly talking about hitting, watching at-bats and studying analytics.
So it has been difficult for Murphy to spend the past few months not being able to hit, limited as he recovers from the debridement and microfracture surgery he underwent on his right knee at the end of the season. On Tuesday, Nationals position players participated in their first full-squad workouts, which included live batting practice. Murphy was not able to participate.
His baseball activities are limited for now: fielding grounders from his knees, playing a little bit of catch and running on the treadmill with about 60 percent weight-bearing on his knee. Although it's hard for him to contain his excitement, he's happy with his progress so far and understands he must be patient with the rehab process.
"You see these guys bouncing around and playing, you want to participate and be playing with your teammates," Murphy said. "But I think it's the understanding of when the training staff lets me go and it's time to play, you only want to come off the DL once. I don't want to start playing games and then have to stop."
Murphy showed up to the Nationals WinterFest event in December on crutches but is walking around just fine now. He still feels some slight discomfort in his knee but has full range of motion.
The Nationals have been optimistic throughout Murphy's rehab that he will be ready for Opening Day. Last week, manager Dave Martinez said Murphy is still on target to meet that goal. Murphy still has a long way to go, but the Nats do not seem to be concerned that he does not have time to hit that goal.
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"I'm more concerned about rushing him and him not being fully ready," Martinez said. "When we get him back, we don't want him to go back on the DL, we want to get him back for the whole season."
The number of baseball players who have undergone a surgery similar to Murphy's is limited, but one of them is Justin Turner of the Dodgers, Murphy's friend and former teammate, who rehabbed from the same injury in 2013. The two spoke during the offseason and Murphy was encouraged by the similarities in their rehab benchmarks.
"Each one's always going to be different," Murphy said. "I'm more asking him what it looks like, what he experienced, more in the future. Because where I am currently is really not going to change too much. So kind of what to expect is what we've talked about."
Washington has plans to slowly incorporate Murphy into Spring Training games with hopes of preparing him to start the season on time, for the final season of his contract with the Nationals. For now, his focus is on getting healthy again. Once that is done, he can go back to focusing on hitting.