Daniel Murphy received text messages this week apprising him of his role in what's become an odd controversy.

The Mets second baseman stirred passions by going on paternity leave, a right guaranteed to major-leaguers by the collective-bargaining agreement. But in his first opportunity to address the controversy, Murphy did not fire back at the fans and media personalities who criticized him for leaving the team the night before the season opener. Instead, he explained the decision to go on leave.

"That's the awesome part about being blessed about being a parent, is that you get that choice," said Murphy, who went 1-for-3 and made two errors Thursday in the Mets' 8-2 loss to the Nationals. "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."

Murphy made it to Florida for the birth of his son on Monday, Opening Day. He remained there until Wednesday so he could tend to his newborn and his recovering wife, whom he described as being physically exhausted after undergoing a C-section to deliver the couple's first child, Noah.

"She had had surgery and she was wiped," Murphy said. "So having me there I think helped a lot."

Murphy missed two games before returning to the Mets' lineup Thursday. He collected a hit in his first at-bat and scored a run, though he also committed a pair of errors at second base.

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"I felt good at the plate, not so much in the field," said Murphy, who also missed some time in spring training with injuries. "I was a little sluggish on defense. It was frustrating."

But the time away was a small price to pay for Murphy, who described fatherhood as "exhilarating."

Manager Terry Collins expressed his support for Murphy.

"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."