Murphy makes debut at first for Mets
Outfielder getting chance to fill void left by injured Delgado
LOS ANGELES -- After learning that he was to make his first career start at first base on Wednesday, Daniel Murphy was "like a kid with a new toy," according to Mets manager Jerry Manuel. Only one problem: Batteries were not included.
Despite weeks of practice at the position, fielding ground balls and perfecting his footwork, Murphy still did not own a first baseman's glove.
"I'm using Delgado's," he said. "By way of Alex Cora."
It's a big glove to fill. Carlos Delgado's hip surgery pressed the Mets to test Murphy at first base, knowing now that they would be without their top home run hitter for roughly 10 weeks. But until Wednesday, Manuel had remained noncommittal as to when and how often Murphy would play. The fact that he entered Wednesday's play in a 1-for-21 slump didn't help. But the answers have finally come.
Murphy will play first base Wednesday against the Dodgers and again for all three games of this weekend's series at Fenway Park. At that point, the Mets will re-evaluate his progress and determine whether he can be their regular first baseman over the next 10 weeks.
At the very least, Murphy may have acquired his own glove by then.
"I'll probably get a call from Wilson," he said.
It's been a turbulent season so far for Murphy, who has literally cost the Mets games with his subpar play in left field. A natural third baseman, Murphy could not crack an infield rotation that included Delgado at first base and David Wright at third.
But Delgado's injury has opened the door for Murphy to play. And the Mets, preferring to have one man stabilize the position, are going to give Murphy every chance to succeed.
They see him as their possible first baseman of the future.
"I thought he played left field good enough last year and hit well enough to be saying, 'Hey, this guy's my left fielder,'" Manuel said. "In the winter, I didn't think there was any question about it. But the struggles he's had during the season, you have to think maybe we made the wrong decision, made the wrong call."
To that end, Murphy has been working constantly at first base, attempting to iron out the wrinkles that come with playing a new position. He will likely experience hiccups, much as he did in left field. But the Mets hope that at first base, Murphy's mistakes will be less pronounced -- or at the least, less costly.
If the experiment does not work, then the Mets may need to look outside the organization for first-base help while Delgado recovers. But they'd rather not pursue such channels unless it's completely necessary.
And Murphy's play -- for better or for worse -- will dictate just how necessary that will be.
"I think I probably look a little bit more comfortable in the infield," Murphy said, "just because I've played there more often."
"You know he puts so much effort that he wants to be perfect," bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr. said. "And he has to understand that he needs to relax and have fun. That's what I said to him. Have fun. Enjoy it. This is a game."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.