NEW YORK -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy once called Citi Field home. For most of his seven years in the Big Apple, he was the Mets' everyday second baseman.
But when Murphy arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday afternoon, he found it strange going into the visitors' clubhouse. He had only been in there once, and that was a couple of years ago for a fantasy football draft held by Mets third baseman David Wright.
Murphy quickly made his presence felt in Tuesday night's 2-0 loss, when he made a nice defensive play to help save a run and end the first inning. In the second, he received a rousing ovation from the crowd before his first at-bat, during which he popped out to third. He finished 1-for-3 with a single off Noah Syndergaard.
In the eighth, Murphy took a bad throw from third baseman Anthony Rendon, stepped on second and made a determined throw to first base to try to complete a double play on Asdrubal Cabrera's grounder. It took a crew-chief review to overturn a safe call and ensure Murphy's effort wouldn't go for naught.
Before the game, the Mets played a nice montage on the scoreboard of his career in New York, and he received a warm ovation from the crowd afterward as well.
Asked how he felt about the ovations, Murphy said, "It was really nice. It was very nice of the organization to play that video montage before the game. They didn't have to do that. The ovation from the crowd left me humbled to say the least."
Murphy has a lot of good memories in Flushing, including his remarkable contributions that helped the Mets go to the World Series in 2015. In the first two rounds of the postseason, Murphy went 16-for-38 (.421) with seven home runs and 11 RBIs -- hitting a home run in six consecutive games, a postseason record. Four of those homers came in the National League Championship Series against the Cubs, leading Murphy to earn Most Valuable Player honors for that series.
Mets fans: Very cool standing ovation for Murph tonight. Wasn't very cool he got a hit off me though Your friendship card is revoked sir!
Murphy called the experience fun. However, he wished he cracked a couple of homers in the Fall Classic.
"We won eight ballgames in the postseason last year. We played really well," Murphy said. "I would have liked to have won three more. It wasn't in the cards. But it was a fantastic run. When I look back on it, I think more about the accomplishments that we were able to do as a team, especially the moves we made at the [non-waiver Trade Deadline]."
After the season ended, Murphy signed a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with the Nationals. There certainly was no indication of bitterness when he held his news conference on Tuesday, and he revealed the Mets gave him his NL championship ring beforehand.
Murphy is off to the best start of his career, hitting a Major League-leading .399. His progress in the batter's box started last year, when Mets hitting coach Kevin Long and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler suggested that he move up on the plate. They also told him to start pulling the ball more often than going the other way. Murphy has taken that success into this season.
"Some of the adjustments were spot on," Murphy said. "I was really struggling with pitches away. They thought moving up on the plate would be wise. They said when you pull the ball in the air, you are much more dangerous than when you try to shoot it to left field."
Murphy isn't the only dangerous hitter on the Nationals. There's Bryce Harper, of course, and Murphy is impressed by what he has seen from his teammate.
"I didn't realize how good Bryce was," Murphy said. "Nineteen games don't do him justice. He is a treat to watch. That was one of the bigger surprises. You win NL MVP and put up a Ted Williams season -- and I go watch, and this guy is better than I thought he was."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.