MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Murphy takes field with Nats for first time

Second baseman says new teammates 'very welcoming'

Murphy takes field with Nats for first time

VIERA, Fla. -- Second baseman Daniel Murphy arrived at Nationals camp for the first time Sunday morning, and it didn't take long for him to get acclimated to his new digs.

Once he hit the field at Space Coast Stadium, he was heard telling teammates, "Let's get it on." Murphy took four rounds of batting practice before taking fielding practice at second base. He was trying to get accustomed to playing with shortstops Danny Espinosa and Trea Turner.

"It's baseball season. We have been waiting four months for this," said Murphy, a Florida native. "It's exciting. The weather seems to be quite similar as it was in Jacksonville when I left yesterday. It's beautiful [in Viera]. It's the first time I came out of the first-base dugout here. That was interesting."

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For the past seven seasons, he had been going to Port St. Lucie to start the season with the Mets. But after a productive postseason, which included an MVP performance in the National League Championship Series, Murphy became a free agent and signed a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with Washington.

Murphy, 30, is no stranger to the Nationals. He is a .270 career hitter against Washington, and in the field, he would often see Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth or Bryce Harper at second base.

"I've seen these guys for so long. They were very welcoming. Now it's about going to work," Murphy said. "I'm really excited to get to know them on a day-to-day basis instead of 18 times a year."

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After signing with Washington, Murphy said he had a great conversation with manager Dusty Baker. Murphy told the skipper he would hit anywhere in the lineup and play any position Baker wanted.

Before the conversation took place, Baker felt he knew all about Murphy through Gary Sheffield. Baker and Sheffield covered the NLCS for TBS last October, and Sheffield, who was a teammate of Murphy's in 2009, told Baker that "Murphy comes to play."

"[Murphy] made it easy," Baker said about the conversation. "He asked me what I expected from him. Usually, that's not what [a player] asks me. That was a very sincere phone call. He said, 'Whatever you need, I'll bat wherever you want me to bat. I'll play wherever you want me to play.' He wants to win -- big time."

During the conversation, Baker also learned that Murphy is a devout Christian and new father.

"There's a lot to say about either being hungry or being a new father," Baker said. "If any of us have kids, it's a possibility it makes you do things you didn't know you were capable of doing. It makes a responsible person, which it sounds like he is."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.