Daniel Murphy takes ground balls at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in...

Daniel Murphy takes ground balls at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip Credit: Long Island Ducks

In what turned out to be a brief retirement, former-Met Daniel Murphy went back to college. At Jacksonville University, Murphy finished his business management degree by taking courses in philosophy and U.S. history.

He did not take movement.

But, the concept of how he moves on the field fascinated him so much that it led him to launch a comeback bid, one that now has him swinging away in Central Islip as a member of the Ducks. He’s one of the many ex-Mets to try and revive their careers on Court House Drive, but is no doubt one of the most high-profile ones.

“I tried to find a job in spring training, and all the affiliated teams must have believed me when I said I was retired,” Murphy told Newsday Tuesday afternoon during a Ducks spring training workout at Fairfield Properties Ballpark. “My agent (Keith Miller) and I know (Ducks manager) Wally (Backman), so we reached out to him and he was gracious enough to let me come out and use his sandlot field.”

Murphy, 38, who retired in January 2021 after playing 12-years in the big leagues with the Mets, Nationals, Cubs, and Rockies, said that watching his children play, with the fluidity and grace of youth, made him think differently about his swing. He knew he needed to get faster. If he changed the way he moved in the box, maybe he could find a way to get back on a professional field.

“The way I’ve been swinging now is more of a rotation than just linear,” he said. “It seemed to be easier on my body. That’s not to say that I retired because I was hurt. I just wasn’t moving fast enough. That’s not to say I’ll be moving fast enough now, but I’m enjoying it very much.”

Murphy played seven seasons with the Mets, a tenure that finished with an electric playoff run where he hit home runs in five consecutive postseason games during the 2015 NLDS and NLCS. He would go on to sign a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Nationals in the 2015 offseason and finish second in the NL MVP voting in 2016.

But Tuesday morning, he was just another Duck on the pond, dressed in team gear, talking and smiling with teammates, and exchanging introductory hand shakes with the grounds crew as he made his way to warm up in the outfield.

“I think he’s on a mission,” Backman said.

Outwardly, at least, Murphy doesn’t have a ton of expectations of where this all will lead him. Instead of thinking about an official big league return, he’s very much invested in the process of the first step.

“My expectations are to come out here, try and play and enjoy my baseball the same way it sure seems like my children do,” he said.

Backman, although he believes Murphy will be on the roster when the Ducks open the season on April 28 in High Point, North Carolina, thinks he’ll be back in the big leagues before too long.

“He just turned 38, but there’s a lot of guys 38 years old that can still play in the big leagues,” Backman said. “I think he’s one of them and with the National League going to the DH, that kind of opens the door for somebody like this . . . He’s going to go from the Ducks to the big leagues.”

But, if he doesn’t, Murphy said he’s open to the idea of playing an entire season in Central Islip.

“As long as it matches up and I want to come out here voluntarily,” Murphy said. “That’s not to say it wasn’t voluntary when I played (in the majors), but there is some aspect of it that, sometimes, it’s work. And, sometimes, this will feel like work too. But, with all that baseball has been gracious enough to give me, I kind of get to pick my work. I’m going to keep coming out here as long as I’m still enjoying myself.”

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