On-Base Perception

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Murphy returns to starting lineup against Nationals

The Mets' Daniel Murphy hits a solo home

The Mets' Daniel Murphy hits a solo home run against the Detroit Tigers during the second inning. (June 30, 2011) (Credit: AP)

VIERA, Fla. -- Just a few notes before the Mets face the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. today at Space Coast Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN:

-- Pitching prospect Domingo Tapia is making his Grapefruit League debut. Last season, the righty went 6-5 with a 3.98 ERA  with Class-A Savannah. Tapia will be opposed by Nationals lefthander Gio Gonzalez.

-- Second baseman Daniel Murphy is in the starting lineup, hitting second, just as expected. Manager Terry Collins said yesterday that Murphy will likely play five innings before being pulled from the game. Murphy strained his intercostal muscle early in camp. This is his first Grapefruit League action all spring.

-- Centerfielder Matt den Dekker arrived in the clubhouse on Thursday morning wearing the cast that will protect his fractured right wrist for the next month. He suffered the injury while attempting a leaping catch on Sunday.

"You've got to try and stay positive," den Dekker said. "It's tough but you've got to do it."

Den Dekker's excellent defense in the outfield had given him an outside chance of making the team out of camp. Instead, with den Dekker down, Kirk Nieuwenhuis may have a chance despite missing nearly all of March with a knee injury.

-- Righthander Jeremy Hefner plans to begin throwing on Friday, three days after he was struck by a comebacker near the right elbow. The Mets expect Hefner to be ready for his first scheduled start of the season, April 5 against the Marlins.

Tags: Daniel Murphy , Matt den Dekker , Domingo Tapia

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