Daniel Murphy gets warm welcome back to Nats Park

Brian Tinsman
September 06, 2018 - 10:16 pm
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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Daniel Murphy last played at Nationals Park less than three weeks ago but had a very different experience on Thursday night. 

Traded to the Chicago Cubs on August 21, Murphy made his first return to Nats Park since the trade and admitted just how weird it felt to be a stranger in a place he had called home.

"There’s definitely emotions," Murphy told the media before the game. "When I got back here (early Thursday morning), I slept in my own bed and played in a road game."

The visiting team dugout is a place Murphy has had no reason to visit since 2015 as a member of the Mets. This time, however, there was the question of whether he would be booed or cheered by Nats faithful.

"It would be humbling if they did--I never expect to get cheered," he said. "You just come out, try to do your job and play as hard as you can. But if there’s applause, then I’d be humbled by it."

Indeed he was humbled, as the Nationals played a video tribute to him as he warmed up in the outfield in the first inning. As fans cheered, Murphy lifted his cap in a salute.

"I check on all the guys and check on the relationships (that) me and my family were able to build over the last two and a half seasons," he admitted before the game, reflecting on his former teammates. "Relationships that I’ve cherished that will take long beyond my playing days."

Murphy batted leadoff for the Cubs on Thursday night, going 1-for-5 and adding a run. That production follows his first 13 games for the Cubs, where he batted .316 with six extra-base hits.

"We know that he’s a very good hitter and we know that he does prepare very well,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said before the game. "We’re trying to prepare so we know when he does step up there, the best way to get him out."

That preparation is part of the reason why Murphy, who acknowledged he didn't do enough for the Nats this season, believes the Nats are in good hands.

"He’s a really good baseball man," Murphy said of Martinez. "I thought that in the midst of a lot of trials, he was always positive. We always played hard for him, which I think is a reflection of the manager, even when things aren’t going well. I just enjoyed playing for him.

"I wish I would’ve been able to play more for him. I wish I would’ve been able to play better for him."

 

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