Daniel Murphy will return to the Mets lineup on Thursday, presumably bringing a measure of comfort and relief to those who have have made it their business to criticize the second baseman for tending to a private matter such as the birth of a child.
Of course, it wasn’t the comfort or relief of those folks that Murphy was considering when he exercised his collectively bargained right to go on paternity leave. He was thinking of his wife, who he described as physically “wiped” after undergoing a C-section to deliver the couple’s first child, Noah [named after the one with the Ark, not the one with a 98 mph fastball].
“That’s the awesome part about being blessed about being a parent, is that you get that choice,” Murphy said. “My wife and I discussed it and we felt that the best thing for our family was for me to try and stay for an extra day.”
So, Murphy hustled down to Florida for the birth of his son on Monday. He remained there until Wednesday so he could tend to his newborn and his recovering wife.
“It is exhilarating,” said Murphy, who received a few text messages apprising him of the wide-ranging public debate about his professional and personal priorities.
For what it’s worth, both general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins had no problem with Murphy’s absence, which cost him two games of 162 (or, 1.23 percent of the season). But for good measure, when quizzed about it again Thursday by a television reporter who later needed help spotting Murphy as he took grounders at second base, Collins challenged the notion that the second baseman was somehow trying to get out of playing.
“First of all, if you’re accusing Dan Murphy of not wanting to play, this guy played 161 games last year, wore himself out, played through all sorts of discomfort. The man had his first child,” Collins said. “He’s allowed to be there. The rules state he can be there. So, he went. There’s nothing against it. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
Collins likened the criticism to an attack on Murphy’s integrity.
Said Collins: “He missed two games. It’s not like he’s missed 10. When you start attacking Dan Murphy’s credibility, you need to look in the mirror a little bit.”
And now some actual baseball news:
-- Outfielder Chris Young was placed on 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad, Collins said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything severe,” Collins said. “I do believe that he caught it in time. It just grabbed on him. He could jog off the field. He didn’t have to come out immediately. So I don’t think it’s going to last more than [15 days].”
Infielder Wilmer Flores will stick around for a few more days. Flores had been called up when Murphy went on paternity leave. It’s not an ideal alignment since Flores is an infielder and Young plays the outfield. But logistically, it was the Mets’ best alternative.
“We couldn’t get anybody here, so we’ll just keep him for a few days,” Collins said.
-- Three games, three first baseman, just like the Mets drew it up. It’s Lucas Duda’s turn in Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals. Ike Davis started on Opening Day and Josh Satin played on Wednesday.
-- The flu bug has apparently afflicted the Nationals clubhouse as well. Illness forced the Nationals to scratch starter Jordan Zimermann was scratched in favor of Tanner Roark. The lineups:
Denard Span CF
Bryce Harper LF
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Sandy Leon C
Tanner Roark RHP
Eric Young Jr. LF
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
Curtis Granderson RF
Lucas Duda 1B
Juan Lagares CF
Travis d’Arnaud C
Ruben Tejada SS
Zack Wheeler RHP