Home News Why Daniel Murphy’s minor-league stint may set-up MLB return

Why Daniel Murphy’s minor-league stint may set-up MLB return

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When spring training workouts begin next week for the independent Long Island Ducks, one former Mets second baseman will be monitoring another, excited about the possibilities.

After two seasons removed from the game, Daniel Murphy is attempting a comeback. The manager giving him that opportunity is Wally Backman, who is hopeful the 38-year-old Murphy will not only thrive with the Ducks, but ultimately get signed by a major league team in need of a left-handed bat.

Murphy looked to receive an invite to a major league camp this spring after sending out video to teams, but nothing materialized. 

That led him to connecting with Backman, who served as a manager in the Mets’ minor league system and spring training instructor during Murphy’s prime years with the club.

“I think what turned me on the most was his high interest in coming back,” Backman told Post Sports+ this week. “It’s not about the money, because he is not making any money, but he’s in as good a shape as I have ever seen him. He looks like he did when the Mets went to the World Series in 2015.”

Former Mets World Series champion Wally Backman starts his fourth season as the Ducks’ manager with a regular season record of 218-174.

Backman has watched video of Murphy’s recent workouts and sees much of the same hitter who owned a .296/.341/.455 slash line with 138 homers over 12 major league seasons.

Murphy played his final two years with the Rockies. In the last of those, he tried to play through a hand injury, slumped badly, and announced his retirement during the winter. 

Three years later, Murphy told Backman he’s adjusted his swing and is anxious to show it in game action.

On the Ducks, Murphy will have familiar company: Ruben Tejada, his former double-play partner with the Mets, is on the roster. Adeiny Hechavarria, who had a stint with the Mets after Murphy’s departure, is also on the team.

“I don’t believe Murphy would come to me with the intention of just playing independent ball,” Backman said. “I lose a lot of guys back to affiliated ball and some go back to the big leagues, so I think he’s on a mission. These guys, they may have something to offer. All these guys played on playoff teams and that is what really interested me about Murphy so much. He’s been there. He knows what it takes and he’s had success.”

Murphy retired from the MLB after the 2020 season before singing with the Ducks last month
Daniel Murphy retired from the majors after the 2020 season before signing with the Ducks last month.
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Backman expects to use Murphy — who participated with him in the Old Timers’ Day game at Citi Field last August — mostly at first base. Murphy may also see action at second.

“Now that they added the DH to the National League, I look at clubs — and honestly, the Mets are one of them,” Backman said. “If this guy comes in and does what I think he’s capable of doing … I know he’s determined to do it. He’s going to be the first one to admit, ‘I can do it or I can’t.’”

Want to catch a game? The Mets schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.

A time for every seasoning

The clamors for Brett Baty’s promotion to the Mets grow with each Eduardo Escobar strikeout or non-competitive at-bat, but there is something to be said for the long view of a season and ensuring your best prospects are ready to contribute at the major league level before they are called up.

In other words, it’s early.

So if you were committed to Baty going to Triple-A for additional seasoning as spring training concluded (as team officials were), bringing the third baseman to the major leagues only two weeks into the regular season screams “desperation,” and the Mets — while off to a mediocre start — certainly aren’t desperate.

Baty, the 23-year-old third baseman, was drafted 12th overall in the 2019 MLB draft by the Mets, making his debut in 2022
Brett Baty, the 23-year-old third baseman, was drafted 12th overall in 2019 by the Mets but will have to wait to make his second appearance with the team.
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At least not yet.

Just look at Francisco Alvarez’s early struggles. 

Though the sample size is tiny, Alvarez has appeared overmatched at the plate, with five strikeouts in eight at-bats since his recall from Syracuse last week. But keep in mind, Alvarez is 21 years old and still hasn’t mastered Triple-A.

Baty, 23, has barely received any Triple-A experience, and though he comported himself well during his stint with the Mets last season, he produced a .184/.244/.342 slash line in his 11 games in the major leagues.

The key is ensuring that Baty is ready, because should he get recalled and struggle, reverting to Escobar won’t be a palatable option.

Ideally, Baty, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio will all contribute to the Mets in some form this season.

It’s understandable fans are hungry for an infusion of young talent and don’t want to hear that it’s early. 

To borrow an old John Wooden saying, the Mets need to “be quick, but don’t hurry” in getting Baty to the major leagues.

Bay blues

Davis spent four season with the Mets from 2019-2022 when he was traded mid-season
J.D. Davis spent four seasons with the Mets from 2019-2022, when he was traded to the Giants at mid-season.
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The Mets’ 10-game West Coast trip, which begins Friday in Oakland, will take the team next week to San Francisco and offer us a reminder of a bad trade that has the potential to end up brutally awful.

That would be the deal that sent J.D. Davis and three others to the Giants last August for Darin Ruf. 

The Mets released Ruf after spring training, and he’s since returned to the Giants on a minor-league contract.

With the Giants, Davis was exactly the kind of right-handed bat the Mets needed last season. He’s off to another solid start this year, reminding observers of the player who produced nicely for the Mets from 2019-21.

Off and running

Brandon Nimmo has already stolen three bases, matching his total from last season. Nimmo credits the new rules limiting pickoff attempts and his confidence in his legs for the early base-stealing success.

The bases are now 18-inches and pitchers are limited to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance
With bases now 18 inches on each side and pitchers limited to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance, steal attempts have skyrocketed.
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“If people are being egregious with their times, we can’t just let that slide,” Nimmo told The Post’s Jared Schwartz.  “Just being more aware of how the body is doing, I’m also getting better at managing my workload before games and after games to try and have the legs really underneath me for these games. It’s also kind of helped with the pace of play, being able to stay warm longer.

“It helps that I’m getting on base as well. With these pickoff limitations and everything, and them having to be under a certain clock, it does make managing the run game more difficult. Just trying to go by the rules that we’re all playing by now and trying to take advantage of it a little bit.”

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