Camp notes: Mets show confidence in Murphy

February, 23, 2009
02/23/09
10:02
AM ET

Daniel MurphyMike Zarrilli/Getty ImagesDaniel Murphy hit .313 with 17 RBIs in 131 at-bats last season.
• Mets manager Jerry Manuel told the New York Daily News there wouldn't necessarily be a platoon in left field between Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis. Manuel feels Murphy can hit left-handed pitching, even going so far to say that if he wanted to get Tatis' bat in the lineup against southpaws, it might be right fielder Ryan Church who sits, and not Murphy. This would also allow Manuel to keep Tatis as a right-handed option off the bench. The bottom line is that the projected bump in Murphy's at-bats should move him a little bit up on your draft lists.

• Seeking to confirm the organization's faith that he can handle the starting shortstop job this season, touted rookie Elvis Andrus has been hampered by a sore wrist early in camp, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram. Andrus might miss a few games while this reportedly minor injury heals. It has caused him to miss three days of batting practice. Andrus' stolen-base potential make him an in interesting mixed-league sleeper this year, though his batting average might not be up to par in his rookie year.

• The Tampa Tribune has reported that Matt Joyce has been hampered by a sore right calf in camp. Again, it's way too early to be overly concerned with something like this, but it's worth nothing because Joyce is not guaranteed a job. While it has been assumed that Joyce will be the platoon partner of Gabe Kapler in right field and that it's his job to lose, he still has to beat out Gabe Gross for the job, with rookie speedster Fernando Perez also in the mix. Joyce is a sleeper hitter this season due to his power potential, but he's still going to have to earn his playing time.

Travis Hafner's surgically repaired shoulder isn't ready to play in games yet, but he did take the important step of finally taking outdoor batting practice with his teammates Sunday, according to the team Web site. He will face some live pitching in the first week of March and then hopefully be ready for game action. Some players' power never really returns in the same way after a major shoulder injury (Shawn Green comes to mind), but given Hafner's level of production before he was hurt, he could be a viable, cheap draft-day gamble if he starts hitting the ball well this spring.

• The Detroit News is reporting that Dontrelle Willis has abandoned his trademark high leg kick in an effort to correct the mechanical issues that contributed to his meltdown last season. Willis is competing for the fifth starter spot with Nate Robertson, Zach Miner, and rookie Rick Porcello, and might be a reserve-list play in AL leagues if he has a good spring and shows he can throw consistent strikes again.

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• The Rockies' team Web site reported that Todd Helton's surgically repaired back might not be ready for Opening Day. Obviously, this situation needs to be monitored throughout the spring, as any further issues with Helton mean more at-bats for Ian Stewart. Manager Clint Hurdle already said during the offseason that Helton would play a "reduced number of games" when he returned, but didn't elaborate on how many that would be, though he did tell the Rocky Mountain News that Stewart will "get a large number of at-bats."

• D-backs outfielder Chris Young told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune that he wants to get back to being aggressive on the bases this season after his stolen-base total was cut nearly in half last year from 27 to 14. While this might be the usual spring noise, Young did say the same thing at the All-Star break last season, and wound up stealing nine of his bases in the second half in 129 fewer at-bats.

Derek Jeter is battling a sore right hamstring, but told the team Web site Sunday that it is "really not an issue" and that he doesn't expect it to hamper his preparations to play in the WBC.

Andy LaRoche, expected to be the starting third baseman for the Pirates, remains bothered by back spasms, and will miss the team's spring opener on Wednesday. However, he did take soft-toss batting practice and some grounders Sunday, indicating the problem shouldn't be too serious.

John Maine is adding a curveball back to his repertoire, and has been throwing a lot of them during camp thus far, according to the team Web site. Former pitching coach Rick Peterson was not a fan of Maine throwing his hook, but new pitching coach Dan Warthen is on board with Maine bringing it back into his arsenal as a fourth pitch. The 2006 season was the most recent time Maine had incorporated it regularly, and it could wind up helping him remain a solid fantasy pitcher again this season.

• According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are still actively pursuing Orlando Cabrera to be their starting shortstop, but only want to pay around $5 million on a one-year contract, which is not what Cabrera is seeking at the moment.

Jason Grey is a graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program and has won two Tout Wars titles, one LABR title and numerous other national "experts" competitions.

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