Daniel Murphy

The Washington Nationals are about set for Opening Day. The team will be without All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy, who is still dealing with the effects of microfracture surgery he had on his knee back in October.

It is believed that Murphy will be out several weeks before he can resume playing in the Washington Nationals infield. His power in the lineup and his defense will be missed. The Washington Nationals won the National League East running away last season and are the favorites to take home another division title this coming season.

“I think it’s reasonable to expect I won’t be in the Opening Day lineup,” Murphy said in a story by Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, with a hint of sarcasm that implied he, like his team, had known that for quite some time.

Murphy is mostly fielding groundballs hit right at him, and a few that require minor lateral movement. He is hitting on the field but hasn’t seen live pitching since October. And when he hits, he can’t put his weight in his legs like he usually does, still easing into the lower-body part of his efforts. Without the ability to practice his whole swing, Murphy has had to focus more on contact — seeing the ball, then centering it on the bat.

Murphy, 32, Murphy agreed to a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Washington Nationals in 2015 after playing for the New York Mets. The Mets gained a draft pick from the Nationals, since Murphy turned down New York’s one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer. On May 2, 2016, Murphy recorded his 1,000th career hit in a game against the Kansas City Royals.

He also won his first Silver Slugger Award in 2016 as the best offensive second baseman in the National League. The Mets originally drafted Murphy out of Jacksonville University in the 13th round of the 2006 MLB Draft.

Murphy and the Nationals want him to be at full speed when he returns to the team’s lineup.

“We want him to be 100 percent healthy and ready. We don’t want him to come back and play three days, and if his knee swells up he can’t play for two,” Manager Dave Martinez said. “We want him to be comfortable out there and make sure when he joins us he’s ready to play every day.”

The fact he has not run any drills or has not taken an at-bat in minor league games means he will remain in West Palm Beach to start the season while his teammates head up north on I-95.

“Naturally, for any athlete, I’m going to come back later than I wanted to,” Murphy said. ” … I think whenever I do come back, from my personal perspective it’ll be later [than hoped for], but that doesn’t mean it’ll be wrong.”

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