By Rich Coutinho
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We all know Daniel Murphy can hit. After all, he was a doubles machine last year and was fifth in the league in batting prior to his injury. So, the Mets need his bat in the lineup. The question is: Can he consistently field the position well enough to be in there every day?
Murphy got to camp early and has worked real hard with Tim Teufel on his footwork around the bag and Terry Collins likes what he sees. “All we need from Murphy is to make the consistent plays”, says the Mets manager,”and establish better footwork around the bag. And he is doing that.” Of course, another big part of the equation is getting a feel for Ruben Tejada’s tosses to him so turning double plays will become second nature.
“That is why I would’ve liked Tejada in here earlier”, says Collins, “but we will still have plenty of time to get it down right. I will tell you this: Every game will play down here they will be together on the field and if one has day off, the other will. I will have them both working very hard on that pivot play.” And the reason for all this hard work is because Murphy’s bat is key for the construction of the Met lineup in 2012.
If Murphy bats second, this lineup with have a lefty-right-lefty-right-lefty look with Wright, Davis, Bay, Duda following the Mets second basemen. Late in games opposing managers could burn out their bullpen playing match-up with this balanced lineup. Murphy also provides a clutch bat as evidenced as how his numbers climb when there are runners in scoring position and in two out situations where Murph was amazing last year.
The Mets offense scored plenty of runs last year but the simple truth is much of the offense vanished after Murphy got hurt. Some of that was due to Reyes being out as well, but my point is Murphy has to be in this lineup. He gets on-base, he hits doubles, and simply put is a very tough out. Much has been made of the fact that injuries have occurred when he plays second base and I can not dispute that. But this Mets lineup must have a healthy Daniel Murphy near the top of it. He will set the table for the power bats.
And Daniel Murphy knows that. That is why he’s been working hard since early February. And that could pay huge dividends for both the Mets and their hard-nosed second basemen.