WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is headed to the 10-day disabled list as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee.
The Nationals put Murphy and right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit on the DL on Tuesday, when Washington lost 3-1 to the Minnesota Twins in the final exhibition game for both teams.
Murphy had surgery on Oct. 20 and been expected to miss the start of this season.
He took grounders in the infield before Tuesday’s game and also participated in batting practice at Nationals Park.
“He’s getting there. We want to make sure when he gets back he’s 100 percent and there’s no ifs ands or buts about it. He’s working to get back as soon as possible,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Hopefully we get him back soon.”
The Nationals start the regular season on Thursday at the Cincinnati Reds, then play a series at the Atlanta Braves before playing their home opener next week.
Murphy will travel with the Nationals until he is ready to go on a rehab assignment to get ready to play.
“He’ll stay with us throughout, and when he’s ready to play some games, we’ll send him back to Florida, I think,” Martinez said. “And then we’ll go from there.”
Murphy, who turns 33 during the first week of this season, is a key piece of the reigning NL East champion Nationals’ lineup.
He finished second in batting average and first in doubles in the league each of the past two seasons.
In 2017, he hit .322 with a .543 slugging percentage, 43 doubles, 23 homers and 93 RBIs. Over the last few games of Washington’s NL Division Series loss to the Chicago Cubs, Murphy felt something going on with his knee. He had an operation, which involved cartilage repair, about a week after the Nationals were eliminated.
In other moves Tuesday, the Nationals put righty reliever Koda Glover on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of catcher Miguel Montero, who will be the backup to starter Matt Wieters.
Montero gets a one-year contract that pays him $1.3 million while in the major leagues. He can earn $1.7 million in performance bonuses based on games: $200,000 each for 40, 50, 60 and 70, and $300,000 apiece for 80, 90 and 100.
The 40-year-old Benoit strained his right forearm during spring training, while Glover has tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Glover is going to stay in Florida as he recovers. He is not throwing a baseball yet.
“There’s no map. He’s progressing. But we want to take it slow. I mean, he’s had issues before. We pretty much told him that, ‘Hey, until we feel like you’re really ready, we’re going to take it slow with you, because we want you to come back and totally be 100 percent. His strength is starting to come back really well,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to build his strength up to where he’s back to normal.”
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