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Daniel Murphy seeks return to the field, but he’ll be DH so long as Nats have that luxury

Daniel Murphy is working toward a return to the field but has only hit since returning from the disabled list. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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TORONTO — Had Mike Rizzo and his staff set out to build an American League lineup, they probably could not have compiled one more suited to life with a designated hitter than the lineup they are using on this two-city road trip. Daniel Murphy is a perfect designated hitter in his current state — and perhaps in any state — a player whose offensive talents already transcended his defense before major knee surgery. Clearing him from second base allows the Nationals to stabilize the right side of the infield while using a platoon of similarly offensive-minded first basemen. With the designated hitter, everyone fits.

“Right now, it gives us an extra bat in the lineup — a good bat in the lineup,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said. “And more important, it’s the length our lineup creates now. The last few days, we’ve seen a lot of pitches from the starters, been able to get the starters out fairly early.”

Martinez sees no reason to change that now. He spoke to Murphy on the phone Friday morning, and the veteran conveyed the belief that he is ready to play the field as soon as this weekend. Martinez said he conveyed the belief that everyone would benefit from using these days in American League parks to make sure Murphy is right.

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“He says he’s ready for the field,” Martinez. “I told him, we had a plan going into this weekend. Let’s see how you feel.”

Even with the designated hitter, the Nationals do not have enough room for all their potential starting outfielders. Friday night against right-hander Aaron Sanchez, Michael A. Taylor will sit for the second straight game. Martinez has been playing Adam Eaton against right-handed pitching since his return. Taylor is hitting .220 overall but has found his stride lately and is hitting .319 over his last 15 games.

“I talked to [Taylor]. He gets it. I told him, don’t read into nothing. You’re going to play. I told them all, ‘Hey, we’ve got some pretty good outfielders, but you’re all gonna get a chance to play, so just keep your head up, and when I ask you to play in a game, be ready.’ ”

Martinez called Taylor “the best center fielder I’ve seen,” so in sitting him, the Nationals sacrifice some defense, too. Bryce Harper will start there Friday night.


Adam Eaton RF

Trea Turner SS

Bryce Harper RF

Anthony Rendon 3B

Daniel Murphy DH

Matt Adams 1B

Juan Soto LF

Wilmer Difo 2B

Pedro Severino C

Gio Gonzalez P


Teoscar Hernandez LF

Justin Smoak 1B

Yangervis Solarte 3B

Kendrys Morales DH

Kevin Pillar CF

Russell Martin C

Randal Grichuk RF

Aledmys Diaz SS

Devon Travis 2B

Aaron Sanchez P

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