Among the highs and lows to already come out of the first month of this season, the continued improvement of Daniel Murphy has certainly been one of the brighter spots to this point so far.
Playing out of his natural position, Murphy has slowly made the proper adjustments on both sides of the diamond. After being jostled all over both the infield and outfield, Murphy has finally found himself a home at second base with the Mets while also improving significantly with the bat. I caught up with Murphy at Citi Field yesterday and he spoke with me about his strides so far this season.
“I didn’t get a whole lot of work in Spring Training since I was injured” said Murphy regarding his defense. “But I think that having more time there has made me become more consistent, more comfortable, and has given me a better understanding of how to position myself and how much time I have.”
Another Met playing out of his original position is Lucas Duda. What has lacked with his .239 batting average he has made up for in his power and improved ability to get on base. After being sent to Buffalo following an extremely poor first half of 2012, Duda came back showing more plate discipline and emerging as an overall better hitter. Murphy says he has been impressed with how Duda has performed this year.
“He’s been awesome.” said Murphy. “I think Justin Turner said yesterday that ‘Duda really knows how to grind out an AB’ and I have not seen him give many at-bats away this year. That’s kind of a goal we have as an offense personally to not give at-bats away, and he’s been locked in and done a great job of getting on base.”
All the while, Duda has not only had to learn to adjust with the bat, but also with the glove as he learns on the job patrolling left field at Citi. As he has done, Murphy sees the similarities in both of their defensive improvements.
“The same thing as I have at second.” said Murphy. “He’s become more comfortable, he’s starting to understand how to position himself and to read swings. What he’s doing is not easy. It’s very difficult to go from the infield to the outfield and I think he’s done a great job.”
Murphy can relate to attempting to make the transition from the infield to the outfield, although he knows that their results have varied significantly.
“He’s doing better than I did.”
Although the situations are similar, Murphy understands why Duda wouldn’t ask him for advice about making such a transition after his failed outfield experiment.
“No, I don’t know if I’d have anything good to give him.” said Murphy, when asked if Duda has come to him about the transition from infield to outfield. “Try to be as relaxed as you can. Tom Goodwin has done an awesome job with him and a great job with positioning him. I think he does a good job of picking the brain of Marlon Byrd.”
Although the outfield did not work out for Murph, it seems to be suiting Duda in 2013. Murphy in turn has found his niche at second. Both came up with the Mets as talented bats that needed a position other than the corner infield and through several trials and tribulations have both found where they belong for the New York Mets.
I want to thank Daniel Murphy for taking some time during batting practice to speak with me. He’s a terrific guy who really adds a lot to the clubhouse and chemistry of the team. You can see how his teammates respect him as a leader as well as a productive player and integral part of the everyday lineup.