Rizzo: Murphy on track for Opening Day

December 13th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's been nearly two months since the Nationals announced second baseman underwent debridement and microfracture surgery on his right knee, and the club's optimism about his status has continued to increase.

On Wednesday, general manager Mike Rizzo said Murphy is on track to be ready for Opening Day, his strongest statement yet about Murphy's status.

"I think that his rehab is coming along very well," Rizzo said. "He's doing well. He's progressing at a good rate. We still feel that our target date of Opening Day, he'll be ready to play."

Murphy never landed on the disabled list for the knee injury, but the Nats have acknowledged that he played through it for part of the second half of the season. His overall numbers were solid, but at times it appeared he did not have the same power as he did earlier in the year. Murphy will be at the Nationals' WinterFest this weekend.

There has been some uncertainty about Murphy's status because that sort of knee surgery is a bit unusual for a baseball player. had a similar operation after the 2013 campaign and went on to play more than 100 games and bat .340 for the Dodgers the following season. There aren't many other comparisons to gauge a true timeline for Murphy.

However, Rizzo's optimism is an encouraging sign for the Nationals, who have maintained that Murphy's status would not affect their offseason plans. They were comfortable with as a capable backup, but also maintained they were not concerned about Murphy missing an extended period of time. Despite the unusual nature of the injury, Rizzo said it did not complicate the Nats' estimates for Murphy's rehab timetable.

"I don't think so," Rizzo said. "I think that you have the [comparisons] and past surgeries of athletes, and I think we're kind of using that as our gauge."