Daniel Murphy spread the holiday cheer by donning the big red suit as Santa Claus for the Mets Kids’ Holiday Party at Citi Field. He joked that he hopes everyone doesn’t think he’s a better Santa Claus than a baseball player.
Most importantly, Murphy said that both his knees are feeling good in anticipation for spring training.
“I’m done with my rehab, and now we’re really into the strengthening phase,” he said. “I always have that one cut that I need to make to trust it again, and I had that a couple of weeks ago.”
Heading into spring training, it seems that it will be Murphy manning second base for the Mets. Ruben Tejada will shift to shortstop due to the departure of Jose Reyes, so Murph becomes the man at second.
Though he’s concentrating on getting as much work in at second base as possible, that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to work at other positions. Also, being the frontrunner to win the second base job doesn’t mean that he’s not going to work.
“I still got a lot of work to do at second base, and there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Murphy said. “My understanding is that I’m going into spring training as a second baseman with a good chance to win the job.”
He said he definitely needs to work more on the double play, but he feels much more comfortable now after working at it the past year than he did last year at this time.
Regarding the new dimensions at Citi Field, Murphy said he didn’t think it would turn him into a better power hitter.
“I’m going to try to hit the ball as hard as I can as many times as I can,” he said. “If it happens to run out of real estate, that’s kind of a bonus for me.”
Murphy also addressed his injury history in that it was mostly bad luck. While he takes the blame in that he must put himself in a better position, he admitted the first injury was from a dirty slide. As the offseason progresses, he will focus on the double play pivot extensively.
The team has discussed briefly the possibility of having Murphy lead off, now that Reyes and Angel Pagan are gone. Murphy said that he would only lead off once per game and would let the circumstances of the game dictate his approach.
Speaking of Reyes, Murphy said it will be strange to play against Jose after being his teammate, but the game itself comes before personal relationships with opponents.
“When we play him…he’s on the other side now,” Murphy said. “He’s a Marlin now. As far as I’m concerned once the bell rings, you’re on the other side.
He did say that he’d have Reyes and his $106 million pick up the tab if they go out to dinner in Miami.
Rather than worry about his individual stats, Murphy has one goal: 95-100 wins. Though that may be a tall order this season, he’s excited with the potential of this team.
“I want to win a pennant, and there’s no better place to win it than New York City so it’s about time to get to it, I think,” said Murphy.
Believe or not, Murphy is the fourth longest-tenured Met behind Johan Santana, David Wright and Mike Pelfrey. However, he said he still feels like one of the younger guys and is looking forward to playing with a young new core.
Murphy was recently mentioned in trade rumors with the Dodgers showing interest. He took this as a compliment in that other teams are interested in his talents.
But he is committed to the Mets and thinks that if the team stays healthy, they can put the negative stigma of the past few seasons behind them.
As spring training approaches, Murphy hopes to transform himself into what he considers an above average first baseman to a competent second baseman.