VIERA, Fla. (AP) — Facing his former team for the first time, Daniel Murphy walked and scored on Anthony Rendon’s two-run single in a four-run first inning against Rafael Montero in the Washington Nationals’ 9-4 win over the New York Mets on Thursday.
After homering in a record six straight postseason games and helping the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 2000, Murphy left as a free agent and signed a $37.5 million, three-year contract with the Nationals.
Resting their top young starters during the first time through their spring training rotation, the Mets began the exhibition season with Montero, who also allowed Bryce Harper’s RBI single.
Murphy grounded into a double play in the second against Gabriel Ynoa.
“I was really excited to see those guys,” Murphy said. “It’s pretty much been (since) the World Series that I’ve seen any of them. “I’ve been able to text a lot of coaches and players over there, but at this point, once you start firing the games up, the eye is toward the regular season.”
Washington ace Max Scherzer, who no-hit the Mets in his final start last season, allowed one hit and struck out one over two innings. Scherzer also pitched a no-hitter against Pittsburgh last year.
Prior to the game, Murphy exchanged a greeting with Mets manager Terry Collins. The two have had a strong relationship since Collins served as New York’s minor league field coordinator in 2010.
While Murphy wouldn’t say he will be extra motivated when facing the Mets 19 times during the regular season, Collins didn’t have a doubt.
“There’s no question,” Collins said. It’s human nature. There’s nothing like beating up on your friends, so I know he’ll be ready.”
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Murphy has already proven to be a good teammate and pointed to Wednesday morning, when the team was getting ready to board the bus for Port Charlotte for its first spring training game
“The bus left at seven o’clock in the morning and he was here,” Baker recalled. “I said, `What are you doing here so early?’ He said, `I was here to say goodbye to my teammates and wish them well.’ I don’t know if I would have been here (when I was a player). That’s pretty good.”
Nationals: Scherzer admitted he held back against the Mets, knowing he will face them multiple times during the regular season.
“I’m just going to keep it vanilla,” he said. “There’s no reason to show them the chocolate, the strawberry or any of the other flavors.”
Mets: Montero, a long reliever candidate, gave up a four runs, four hits and two walks while throwing 39 pitches in one inning.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos headed back to Washington, D.C., to have Lasik surgery performed on his eyes. Baker said the need for the surgery detected during Ramos’ spring training physical. Ramos is expected back Saturday, but won’t play for a few days.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez is slated to face a Marlins split squad. LHP Adam Conley is scheduled to start for Miami.
Mets: New York hosts a Miami split squad. RHP Logan Verrett is to start for the Mets and LHP Justin Nicolino gets the start for the Marlins.
(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)