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Mets' Murphy Gaining Confidence at First

11:05 AM, Mar 1, 2010   |    comments
Daniel Murphy (Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Daniel Murphy, an Englewood High School graduate and former JU baseball star, heard bits and pieces about the New York Mets' offseason from friends and family, focusing on whether the club would add another first baseman.

Murphy, himself, didn't pay too much attention to it. He just did what he usually does over the winter.

"My job every offseason is to try to put myself in the best shape I can going into spring training," he said Sunday. "I treat every offseason the same. Going into spring training, I've got to win a job."

That job is more secure this spring, with Murphy penciled in to be New York's regular first baseman. It's quite a change from last year, when he started the season in left field before taking over at first when Carlos Delgado went down with a right hip injury.

While slick-fielding Mark Teixeira was helping the crosstown Yankees win the World Series, Murphy struggled with the position. He committed 10 errors in 101 games at first, including a flubbed grounder that handed a win to Atlanta in September.

Now sure of his spot, Murphy changed his offseason workout routine to prepare for the job. He also got some fielding lessons from 11-time Gold Glove first baseman Keith Hernandez right before spring training started.

"Keith was great. He added a lot of things to first base I hadn't ever really thought of, some things to work on," Murphy said. "The biggest thing I thought was just getting to know your other infielders."

Murphy impressed the Mets with his progress when he was the only position player to attend a team minicamp in January, and has looked more comfortable in the field since regular camp started.

The Mets monitored Delgado over the winter, added Mike Jacobs with a minor league deal and re-signed Fernando Tatis, but manager Jerry Manuel has been consistent this spring that Murphy is the starter.

"I do see him as being a good first baseman," Manuel said, talking about Murphy's fielding ability. "Everything he does, he's going to work to get it done and I think that's going to be adequate. I think it's going to be more than adequate for what we need."

Murphy also had some difficulties at the plate last year after hitting .313 in 49 games as a rookie in 2008. He was down to .234 last season after an 0-for-3 night in Baltimore on June 16, but he picked it up from there.

The Jacksonville native, who turns 25 on April 1, hit .282 the rest of the way, connecting for eight of his team-leading 12 homers. He also finished with 38 doubles, showing signs he may be able to take advantage of Citi Field's expansive power alleys even if he may never be a big-time slugger like Delgado.

"The goal in New York is to win, so it's not just the way I play first base or how I can play compared to some of the other guys that come through -- some great players," Murphy said. "At the end of the day I've got to find a way to help this team win."

NOTES: Mets star SS Jose Reyes said he met with federal investigators last week regarding a Canadian doctor accused of selling an unapproved drug. Reyes said Dr. Anthony Galea treated him last year when he was sidelined by right leg injuries. The shortstop said he told investigators about the treatment and everything was OK because he didn't do anything wrong. An attorney for Galea has said his client denies any wrongdoing. ... Closer Francisco Rodriguez (pink eye) threw a bullpen session outside while the team was working out and Manuel said he was feeling better. ... Manuel mentioned RHPs Ryota Igarashi, Bobby Parnell and Sean Green, and LHP Pedro Feliciano as possible candidates for the eighth-inning role. ... The Mets continue to tinker with the pitching probables for their first two exhibition games. Igarashi and Feliciano were added to the list for Tuesday's opener against Atlanta. LHP Hisanori Takahashi was pushed back to Wednesday's game against the Braves. LHPs Travis Blackley, Bobby Livingston and Eric Niesen and RHP Eddie Kunz also were added to Wednesday's probables. ... New York is scheduled to play an intrasquad game on Monday.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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