PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Daniel Murphy is the first option at first base for the New York Mets. For now, anyway.
Murphy was the only position player to attend minicamp this week, giving the Mets' staff a good look at what he may offer this season. The 14-player session ended Wednesday.
"I think Daniel Murphy can do enough that we can survive," manager Jerry Manuel said.
"He has some range at first base," Manuel said. "There are some things he can do, but I think the other pieces we have in place are going to have to perform to their offensive capabilities for us to get away with not relying solely on say what a Carlos Delgado would have brought."
Mets general manager Omar Minaya said this week the organization had been monitoring Delgado, who saw limited time on the field while playing in Puerto Rico this winter. Delgado and Fernando Tatis, who both spent some time at first base for the Mets last year, are free agents.
Murphy said his dad has been reading the papers and following what the Mets and others are saying about Delgado, but he hasn't paid much attention himself.
He has spent the offseason working out at Jacksonville University in his hometown and preparing to play first base.
"These guys want to win, so if they bring someone in, they think they are going to help us win," Murphy said. "If they do that, it's my job to find my role to help this team win. ... I think I've worked hard this offseason and put myself in position to have success in spring training and this season, and that's all I can do."
Murphy is coming off his first full season in the majors, which he began in left field and ended at first base, where he made 97 starts and often struggled in the field.
Murphy had an up-and-down season at the plate, batting .266 with 12 home runs, 38 doubles and 80 RBIs. Manuel and hitting coach Howard Johnson expect big improvements this year, especially in the doubles category.
"He's learning and he's still developing, but after the beginning of last year, he started to turn the corner, and the way he finished there were a lot of lessons he learned in that period, and he retains well," Johnson said. "That's why I feel like he's on target to do some really big numbers."
Murphy sees room for improvement, too, and was anxious to get back to work with the Mets' staff. That is what brought him to Port St. Lucie, a three-hour drive from home.
"It's been a while," Murphy said. "This is the first year I haven't played winter ball, so I haven't gotten to light somebody up for a while, so I've got the itch."
The 24-year-old Murphy said it helps knowing his position going into spring training, and he has focused more on footwork and building strength, rather than speed this offseason. But he also remembers he had the same kind of clarity about playing left field last year at this time.
Though he said he can still play outfield, he is more confident in the infield, where he spent his three years in the minor leagues and throughout his college career as a third baseman.
"I spent more time in the dirt so I am going to be more comfortable," Murphy said. "I am just more comfortable seeing groundballs and reading them than I was popups."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)