Murphy feels great on field prior to Game 1

Severino slated to fill in at catcher; Kershaw matchup factors into decision

Murphy feels great on field prior to Game 1

WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (strained buttocks) is expected to be in the starting lineup for Game 1 against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1) on Friday at Nationals Park. It would be his first start since Sept. 17 against the Braves.

Murphy did his share of running and took batting practice without any problems on Thursday afternoon. According to manager Dusty Baker, he has done everything on the field except for sliding.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 LAD 4, WAS 3 video
Gm 2 Oct. 9 WSH 5, LAD 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 WAS 8, LAD 3 video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 LAD 6, WAS 5 video
Gm 5 Oct. 13 LAD 4, WSH 3 video

"I felt it was a good day," Murphy said. "It was a step in the right direction. I woke up this morning and spoke to the training staff. We were able to execute the day that we all wanted. So we positioned ourselves to hopefully be ready to play tomorrow."

Redding helping the 40-man roster

The Nationals brought in Minor League pitching coach Tim Redding to work with the pitchers who will not make the postseason roster. Those pitchers will work out in Woodbridge, Va.

"The team asked me if I could become the pitching guy and help them be ready to go in case the Nationals advance into the next round," Redding said.

Redding just finished his third season as the pitching coach for Class A Auburn, and he said he loves his job, adding that he is a better coach than he was a player. Redding played in the big leagues for eight years and was 37-57 with a 4.95 ERA for teams such as the Astros, Nationals and Yankees.

"I'm enjoying it more and more every year," Redding said. "It's making me realize ... how difficult I was [as a player]. Sometimes it wasn't easy for a coach to get through to me. So being a pitching coach has made me a better person and a better coach than I ever was as a player. It allows me to try and help those guys through personal experiences."

Worth noting

• Former Expos/Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez will not throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the NLDS. Hurricane Matthew is the reason Hernandez could not attend, and he did not want to leave his family behind. According to the Nats, they will now have a surprise guest throwing out the first pitch.

• Though he would not announce the full NLDS roster, Baker said that infielder Wilmer Difo will be included. Difo slashed .276/.364/.379 in 66 plate appearances this season, and he brings value with his speed and positional versatility.

• Additionally, Baker said the Nationals will carry three lefties in the bullpen, as expected. The three most likely candidates are Marc Rzepczynski, Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez, though Sean Burnett could also be in the mix.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Alex Putterman is a reporter for based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.