VIERA, Fla. -- Daniel Murphy had an encouraging, albeit ungraceful, 2013 Grapefruit League debut Thursday.
Murphy went 1-for-3 in his first major league spring-training action, after returning from a strained intercostal muscle on his right side. He had a broken-bat single against Gio Gonzalez in his first at-bat, then lined out to second base against the southpaw. Murphy struck out swinging in his final at-bat. He logged five innings at second base.
New York Mets
Murphy, after reaching on the first-inning single, probably was a little too aggressive for his first game back. On first base, he tagged up and dove into second on Lucas Duda's flyout to center field. The headfirst slide ended with more of a clunk than with grace.
"I bit the ground, but I felt pretty good on it," Murphy said. "Duda was looking at me a little funny, but it was the right play. It was nice to slide. I've only slid twice this spring, so it was nice to get the headfirst one out of the way. ... I wanted to try to get into scoring position. If I get thrown out, I felt like it was the right play. I didn't think I was going to tackle second base."
Murphy said he has no doubt he will be ready for Opening Day.
"No," Murphy said. "But I can't just show up and play without getting some work done on it, just to make sure it's ready."
Murphy had advocated entering a Grapefruit League game, even though that would end the Mets' ability to backdate any DL stint deep into spring training. He wanted to play the quicker major league brand of baseball to prepare for the season. David Wright similarly now wants to enter a Grapefruit League game after going 0-for-3 with two walks and playing third base in a Class A game Thursday.
"The speed of the game is obviously going to be a little quicker here," Murphy said. "I actually was pleasantly surprised at how far along I was, and not even on the base hit. That was trash. The lineout was a good swing, a good at-bat, especially off of Gio. And the last at-bat, on the strikeout, I felt good -- fouled a breaking ball off and felt good in there.
"It was good to face him," Murphy continued, referring to Gonzalez. "It was really good to face a lefty with some velocity like that."
Murphy said he did not think about his side muscle at all.
"That was the good thing about today," Murphy said. "I didn't feel it at all. I was able to just play the game. Now, I'll just use these next two days to get my legs underneath me as much as possible. I'm looking forward to going north."