MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Murphy set to play against Mets for first time

Murphy set to play against Mets for first time

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy will play his first game of the Grapefruit League season on Thursday at Space Coast Stadium. It will also be the first time he plays against the Mets, the team he played with for seven years before becoming a free agent and signing a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Nationals.

For Murphy, Thursday will mean baseball is officially back. Murphy said he will have a better idea about his emotions when he faces his former team. He is aware the New York media will be coming to see him.

"It's not the first time I've spoken to the New York media," Murphy said. "They treated me fairly. I hope they say I treated them fairly, too. I tried to be accessible. I thought the media was very fair during my time there. It would be good to see them again."

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Murphy had a great run in New York, hitting .288 with 62 home runs and 402 RBIs, while playing second, third and first base. Murphy was a big reason the Mets went far in the postseason in 2015. In the first two rounds, Murphy went 16-for-38 (.421) with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. He hit a home run in six consecutive games, a postseason record. Four of those homers came in the National League Championship Series against the Cubs, helping Murphy earn Most Valuable Player honors for that series.

"It's still going to be about executing at-bats, executing on defense," Murphy said. "I always thought having David Wright there my entire career kind of helped to show what it looked like to be able to produce in New York, not only on the field, but to be available and accessible off the field as well. I really enjoyed my time there. It should be fun tomorrow to really fire up baseball again."

Now in a different uniform, Murphy said he is enjoying his time with the Nationals.

"We are getting our work done. There is a lot of energy in camp right now," Murphy said. "We are not on the field a ton of times, because I think [manager] Dusty [Baker] is about, 'Let's work hard. Let's do it right. Let's get off the field and get ready for the next day.' I think everybody in the clubhouse appreciates that.

"You can tell that Dusty has been through this before. So there is a confidence and a relaxed state about him that gives peace in this clubhouse, and an understanding that we are here to work with the goal in mind we are going to put ourselves in the best position to win games in the next six months and further."

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.