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How using his legs has helped Nats' Daniel Murphy's home run surge

How using his legs has helped Nats' Daniel Murphy's home run surge

Daniel Murphy hit two home runs against the Mets on Wednesday night, one a solo shot in the second inning and the next a two-run bomb in the eighth. The first he drove to the second deck in right field and the second he pushed into the home bullpen.

Neither were on well-balanced and traditional home run swings. Murphy's first homer came with his weight shifted to his backside and the second was driven primarily by his lead right arm. On that one his back left leg bent down as he reached for a low Sean Gilmartin changeup and drove it over the fence as he essentially took a knee at home plate.

Manager Dusty Baker said afterwards that both homers spoke to a skill Murphy has that many others do not.

"He’s learned how to use his legs. He uses his legs as a hitter probably better than any hitter in this league," Baker said.

Driving balls with power from his legs has been a big point of emphasis for Murphy and has helped him unlock a late career power surge. After setting a career-high with 14 homers in 2015, the Nats second baseman tied that total on Wednesday night with his 14th bomb of 2016 in just the 79th game of the year. He's on pace to shatter his career-best and possibly reach 25 or even 30 by season's end.

"What I've learned is your legs will put you in a good position to hit. So on that last one I was just trying to get my foot down early and get a good pitch to hit. My legs kind of saved me on that one," Murphy explained.

"It's something I worked on a lot last year and carried over to this year. Your legs can save you if you get yourself in a bad position. I didn't exactly hammer that changeup that Gilmartin threw to me. It was actually a pretty good pitch down and in, but my legs kind of saved me."

Murphy avoids specifics when discussing his home run increase, or when asked to talk about himself in general. As for tying his career-high, he had few answers.

"I don't know. They just keep going over the fence," he said.

Baker did the talking for him.

“He’s learned how to hit the ball out of the ballpark, which is indicative of how he was hitting the ball out of the ballpark in the playoffs," Baker said of Murphy's seven homers in 14 games last October with the Mets.

"Like I’ve always said, I’ll take an opposite field hitter and teach him in time – or he’ll learn in time – how to pull the ball and how to hit the ball out of the ballpark, how to sit on pitches and look for pitches, versus taking a pull hitter and trying to teach him to go away. Murphy’s bread and butter is up the middle and the other way. He can do that almost any time he is ready because that was his stroke for so long. He’s learned how to hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Whatever the reason, the Nationals will take it. And they have to be especially pleased with what he's done against his former team. Murphy's two homers on Wednesday gave him four in just 35 at-bats this season off the Mets.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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