MIAMI -- Daniel Murphy has been a starting leftfielder and an everyday first baseman for the Mets. But after losing out to Brad Emaus in the second base competition, he appeared to slip a little further down the depth chart Friday when manager Terry Collins used Lucas Duda -- another lefthanded hitter -- as his first pinch-hitting option off the bench.

Duda is on the team only because of Jason Bay's injury, but Collins said yesterdaythat he was saving Murphy for a pinch-hitting chance, and the possibility of a double-switch, because he can be used at a few different positions, including both corner spots in the outfield.

Saturday night, Murphy got his first at-bat of the season and struck out pinch hitting for reliever Bobby Parnell in the ninth. He stayed in the game at first .

"When all is said and done," Collins said, "Murphy is going to get a lot of at-bats."

Collins already is looking ahead to getting Murphy a start at second base and said that's likely to come in Philadelphia on Thursday, when the Mets are scheduled to face Roy Halladay.

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The K-Rod question

With Francisco Rodriguez unused in Friday's opener, Collins said he'll have to talk with his closer about how to keep him sharp in the event of infrequent save opportunities. Rodriguez, of course, has a $17.5-million option that vests if he finishes 55 games, so there are other forces at work here.

"I think that's probably the one area that we really didn't discuss too much when he came to camp," Collins said. "We talked more about the multiple-innings thing than we did those days off. You have to do it because you've got to get him in some games. Maybe just coming in and throwing 15 pitches in a game we're way ahead or way behind in, just to get some work in."