When news of Lucas Duda's stiff back reached Mets manager Terry Collins Tuesday, there was no panic, no worry, no concern. Collins knew exactly who to plug in at first base, Daniel Murphy.
Murphy got his second start of the season at first in the Mets' 4-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field Tuesday night.
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"The easiest thing was to just slide Murph over," Collins said. "I think Murph is a very good first baseman. It's easy for him to adjust there. It's on the same side of the field as second base. The angles of the balls are somewhat similar. I have no concerns there."
Although it's been a rare occurrence this year, first base is hardly uncharted waters for the utility man. Entering the game, Murphy had started 158 games at the position in his seven-year career, the most at any position besides second base, where he's started 466.
The bulk of Murphy's first base starts came in two seasons. He started 97 games there in 2009 and 46 games in 2011.
"When Ike Davis got hurt [my] first year, Murph played first and was outstanding," Collins said, thinking back to 2011. "He's very quick and agile over there. He's got a good enough arm and is not afraid to throw to the other bases."
Collins continued: "There was a time when we said, 'if anything happens to Lucas Duda or Ike Davis, Dan Murphy is the one that's got to go to first base.' That's how good I think he is over there. I'm very comfortable and I think he'll do fine."
Despite the limited playing time there since 2011, Murphy was confident before the game. "The angle off the bat is different," Murphy said. "You just have to take ground balls and focus on the hitting zone. That's probably the biggest thing."
Murphy handled two ground balls cleanly in the third inning, flipping one to Matt Harvey, who barely got to the bag before opposing starter Chris Rusin for the second out, and easily beating leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon there for the final out.
In addition to his ability to suit up at multiple positions, Murphy's hot bat is a big reason why keeping him in the lineup in whatever way possible benefits the Mets.
Entering the game, Murphy was hitting .357 with five doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and six runs in his last 10 games. He hit the winning, two-run single in the seventh inning of Monday night's 4-2 win over the Rockies.
"I feel comfortable in there right now," Murphy said. "I've gotten some good pitches to hit and lately I've been fortunate that I haven't been missing them."