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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Bench is Murph's turf vs. lefties

By Adam Rubin

CHICAGO -- Daniel Murphy has been out of the starting lineup all four times the Mets have faced a left-handed starter in the past week -- against Baltimore’s Brian Matusz, the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia, then Monday against Chicago’s Travis Wood.

So does Murphy now fall into the same lefty-righty platoon category that pretty much has fallen into place in center field with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres and even at catcher with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas?

“Not necessarily,” Terry Collins said before Tuesday’s game, in which Murphy will start at second base against right-hander Randy Wells. “We know when Murph’s swinging like he’s capable of, he hits everybody.”

Collins said Murphy may start Thursday against ex-teammate Chris Capuano at Dodger Stadium, although he is unlikely to start in Sunday’s series finale against fellow southpaw Clayton Kershaw.

“I’m not sure Kershaw is a very fair match with his breaking ball,” Collins said, while adding that Murphy could effectively neutralize Capuano's changeup, making that a better matchup.

Murphy is hitting .143 (9-for-63) over his last 17 games as his average has sagged to .269.

“Actually, he’s swung the bat pretty good lately,” Collins maintained. “He’s hit the ball on the button three or four times in the Yankees series. So I’m hoping it’s starting to get back into play, his stroke. If he hits like he’s capable of hitting, our lineup is a whole different lineup.”

Murphy has been homerless in 347 at-bats, since going deep last July 16 against Philadelphia's Cole Hamels. That is the longest active drought in the majors.

“If Murph hits like we think he’s going to hit, he’ll drive runs in,” Collins said. “If Dan Murphy is hitting .315, he’s going to hit homers. Right now, he’s gone outside the strike zone a little bit, where he’s swinging at some pitches that he has no chance to hit out of the ballpark. But when he’s swinging good, he’s a good-enough hitter that he’s eventually going to hit some homers.”