Washington Nationals: Daniel Murphy progressing well

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a two-run double against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth innin gin game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a two-run double against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth innin gin game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery early this offseason, but he’s progressing well. Here’s the latest on his status.

Like Daniel Murphy‘s future with the Washington Nationals, his status for Opening Day is uncertain. The star second baseman is entering his final season under team control, but it may not begin on time.

Shortly after the Nats were eliminated from the postseason, it was revealed that Murphy had been playing through a knee injury that required surgery. A week after the Nats’ season ended, he underwent microfracture surgery to repair damage to the articular cartilage in his right knee.

Recovery from microfracture surgery typically takes six months to a year, which would likely rule Murphy out for Opening Day. However, he is progressing well.

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Murphy was last seen relying on crutches at Nats WinterFest in December, but we recently received a few updates on his status. Dave Martinez said that Murphy is off of the crutches and has begun to run.

Although there is still much more rehab remaining, this is a monumental step. Perhaps this could even mean that Murphy will return in time for Opening Day.

However, there is no need to rush him back. The Nats have Howie Kendrick, Wilmer Difo, Adrian Sanchez, and Reid Brignac who can all fill in if needed. Murphy is undoubtedly the best option, but there is insurance if he is not ready.

The Nats can also afford to not be at their best in the regular season. Considering how weak the NL East is, the Nats are all but guaranteed to win the division. They can get away with not having Murphy for the beginning of the regular season, but they must have him in the lineup in October.

For this reason, the Nats will be responsible with Murphy. If they rush him back, he could aggravate his knee and have to miss even more time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Murphy needs to go through something similar to Spring Training before he can perform in the regular season. We saw him struggle in the World Baseball Classic last year after a limited Spring Training, and we would likely see similar results if he tries to play in the regular season without proper preparation.

If Murphy is unable to participate in Spring Training and see enough live pitching, he should begin the season in extended Spring Training or on a minor league rehab stint. He is one of the best hitters in the league, but everyone needs to properly prepare in order to produce.

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It seemed unlikely at first, but Murphy could be ready for Opening Day. However, there is no need to rush him back and it is not necessarily discouraging if he gets a late start to the season.

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