MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Murphy makes Nationals spring debut vs. Mets

Second baseman walks, scores a run against former team

Murphy makes Nationals spring debut vs. Mets

VIERA, Fla. -- It was 6:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Nationals manager Dusty Baker was already at Space Coast Stadium and getting ready to travel by bus to Port Charlotte, Fla., to watch his team play the Rays.

Baker then noticed that second baseman Daniel Murphy was already at the ballpark. Murphy didn't have to arrive until a few hours later. He stayed behind to work out with teammates Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon.

Baker asked Murphy why he was at the park so early. Murphy said he wanted to say goodbye to his teammates who were going to Port Charlotte and wish them luck before they played the first game of the exhibition season. It prompted Baker to call Murphy an unselfish teammate.

"I don't know if I would have been there. But that's pretty good," Baker said about Murphy arriving early at the ballpark.

Baker went so far as to say that Murphy's work habits are outstanding. Although he is not known as a wizard at second base, he works hard at the position during practice.

"He works at it and he is a student of the game and it's going to rub off on some of the guys on the team," Baker said. "He is the epitome of a tough out. He is a mentally strong guy."

Murphy finally played his first exhibition game in a 9-4 victory over the Mets on Thursday. It was a game that saw Murphy face his old team for the first time since electing to become a free agent and signing a three-year, $37.5 million deal with Washington. Murphy ended up going 0-for-1 with walk and a run scored.

Outlook: Murphy, 2B, WSH

"It was definitely fun. It was really nice to be able to jump out there in that first inning after Max [Scherzer] went out there and had a clean inning," Murphy said. "There were some good at-bats in that first inning. I settled in pretty quickly. It was definitely different. It was four or five months ago, all those guys [the Mets] were my teammates -- and just about everybody in the organization. I'm excited to be here in Washington. I thought it was a good start to Spring Training."

Murphy didn't express any bitterness toward the Mets. He considered taking the Mets' qualifying offer, worth $15.8 million, but his best course of action, according to his agents, was to take a multi-year deal on the free-agent market.

It was obvious that Murphy was happy to see his old team. After he was finished taking batting practice, Murphy was seen talking to Mets manager Terry Collins in right field. Murphy had nothing but good things to say about Collins and his former teammates. After all, the last time he saw them was during last year's World Series.

"TC was always good to me. He was good to the ballclub over there," Murphy said. "The ballclub over there is in good hands as you saw last year. Before TC was the manager, he was the field coordinator and that took me back to 2010. I've known him for a good while. It was nice to see him, it was nice to see the whole coaching staff and the guys I was able to play with last year."

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.