ATLANTA — Daniel Murphy was in the Nationals’ original lineup for their series finale against the Braves on Thursday night in his usual spots, batting fourth and playing second base. But when Murphy arrived at SunTrust Park, he visited Manager Dusty Baker’s office to inform him he was experiencing some discomfort in his right leg and it was probably best if he didn’t play. So Baker scratched him from the lineup.
The Nationals described Murphy’s injury as right leg tightness. Murphy missed the final couple weeks of 2016 regular season with a glute injury, but that was his left side. Murphy declined to talk about the injury when asked about it.
“We thought it would be better to give him today off because he doesn’t want off and we don’t want him off in New York,” Baker said. “And then you still have a long stretch of the road trip to go.”
With Murphy expected to play in New York, Trea Turner is expected to join him and complete the starting Nationals’ middle infield. Baker said the club could activate the shortstop from the 10-day disabled list as early as Friday, though he probably wouldn’t start. Turner hasn’t played since straining his right hamstring April 8. He was eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday and has spent the past two days playing in extended spring training games at the Nationals’ facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Reports on Trea were good,” Baker said. “I think he had five at-bats, a couple walks, a triple and another hit or something. They said his defense was good. He’ll be coming to New York with us, maybe activate him tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ll play him tomorrow, because that’s the rest day that we kind of had planned for him after being so inactive for so long. But he’ll be available to us later in the game.”
As for Murphy, Baker said he first noticed the NL MVP runner-up wasn’t himself in Wednesday’s win. Murphy was the only Nationals position player who didn’t record one of Washington’s season-high 20 hits. He went 0 for 4 with two walks and a run scored.
Baker believes Murphy’s unusual spring training — he was idle more than normal because he barely played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic — was a factor in the development. Despite the limited action, he got off to a hot start. He’s batting .344 with a .932 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and is fifth in baseball with 21 hits.
“It’s just some leg tightness, but that’s to be expected,” Baker said. “As much as he’s been on base. As much as he had an abbreviated spring. A very abbreviated spring. So it’s probably just a matter of he bends down a lot at second base. He squats to hit. And his legs probably weren’t in the best baseball shape to start the season in the first place.”
Jayson Werth, as expected, is not in the lineup, either. Werth exited Wednesday’s win during his second at-bat in the third inning with groin spasms. The 37-year-old left fielder was optimistic he won’t need to go on the disabled list and said Thursday he was feeling better than expected. He said he thinks he could return as early as Friday against the Mets.
In other injury news, Sammy Solis, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation Wednesday, said the decision was precautionary and he just needed a few days off. He’s eligible to return April 29.
With Werth out Thursday, Adam Eaton will shift from center field to left and Michael A. Taylor will play center. Grant Green will make his first start of the season at second base for Murphy.
Matt Kemp will return from the disabled list and bat fourth behind Freddie Freeman for the Braves, who will face Stephen Strasburg.
Adam Eaton LF
Wilmer Difo SS
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Matt Wieters C
Michael A. Taylor CF
Grant Green 2B
Stephen Strasburg RHP
Ender Inciarte CF
Adonis Garcia 3B
Freddie Freeman 1B
Matt Kemp LF
Nick Markakis RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jace Peterson SS
Kurt Suzuki C
R.A. Dickey RHP