VIERA, Fla. — Daniel Murphy will have to do this again, answer questions about playing against his old team, talk about how different it is to play in a red jersey now instead of blue and orange, be diplomatic about what became a seemingly inevitable departure from New York. The Washington Nationals’ second baseman played against the Mets, who drafted and raised him, for the first time Thursday. He went 0 for 1 with a walk and scored a run.
“Settled in pretty quickly. Definitely different,” Murphy said. “What, four or five months ago those guys were my teammates and I know just about everybody in the organization. But I’m happy to be here in Washington and I thought it was a good start to spring training.”
A few Mets coaches and players wandered over to Nationals batting practice to shake hands with Murphy, others to give him a hug. After he got those two at-bats and played a few innings, Murphy spoke to a crowd of media far larger than the one that usually surrounds Nationals players this time of year.
They asked about his departure, why he declined the qualifying offer, when he knew he definitely would not return. His agents, the Levinsons at ACES, believed he could get more than the one-year qualifying offer deal, so he declined it, he explained. When the Mets traded for Neil Walker, who had one year of team control left, Murphy understood the team was hunting flexibility to clear space for prospect Dilson Herrera. His departure was all business, Murphy said. So was Thursday’s game.
“I was really excited to see those guys,” Murphy said. “It’s been since the last day of the World Series, pretty much, that I’ve seen anyone. I’ve been able to text a lot of them over there, but at this point, once you start firing the games up, the eyes are toward the regular season.”
Over the course of a six-minute session, Murphy never used the word “Mets” once. Asked if he had begun to think of himself as a National yet, as opposed to a Met, Murphy said, “I’m good with baseball player. Husband. Father.”
DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY: 31