Daniel Murphy has spent his entire professional career with the New York Mets, 10 years since being drafted back in 2006, including the last seven with the big league club. In moving to the Nationals in free agency, he knows the city well having traveled to Washington multiple times a year. He knows the division well as a former rival in the NL East. There is familiarity, and that was important for Murphy in deciding which team to sign with.
Joining the Nats, however, will bring some unfamiliarity, including what it's like to play against the Mets. Murphy has been teammates with many of their players for years, but now he is their enemy.
Murphy knows it will be strange, but he hopes facing them in spring training helps him get over those feelings.
"As far as playing against them 19 times next year, I think the fact we're going to be playing them in spring training should help alleviate some of that, what will happen in the regular season. To be able to go up to St. Lucie or have the Mets come to us will kind of help get me ready, so to speak, for when that happens. But right now we have an eye towards Viera," he said.
Though Murphy signed with their rival, he said the reception was very positive from his former teammates and coaches.
"I got a lot of congratulatory texts from the guys I used to play with. David [Wright] and Jacob deGrom, even the manager, Terry Collins, reached out to me. I enjoyed my time in New York. It was a lot of fun. Some great relationships were made. But my wife and I are very excited about the relationships we're going to be able to make here and the opportunity that we're going to put ourselves in for 2016."
Murphy is known as one of the best players in baseball at not striking out. He set a career-best with a 7.1 strikeout percentage in 2015, which would have led the Nationals. Murphy whiffed only 38 times in 499 at-bats last season.
That was without facing what is by most accounts the best pitching staff in baseball, though. Murphy will soon find out what it's like to stand in the box against the likes of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
"It's a talented group. I've seen those guys come up to the big leagues and kind of mature right in front of my eyes. It's a talented group. I'll actually probably be leaning on [Ryan Zimmerman] and Jayson [Werth] and Bryce [Harper] and Anthony Rendon as much as they probably lean on me because they have actually faced them. I've gotten to see them from behind and have an idea hopefully of what are their tendencies, but they have actually seen it. Hopefully we are able to bounce ideas off of each other and come up with a game plan to put ourselves in the best position to win games in the division," Murphy explained.
On the flip-side of that, Murphy will now not have to face the likes of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. He is glad to be on the Nationals' side of things and does not believe it will be strange going from foe to friend coming from the Mets.
"I don't think so at all. Being able to see them when I was in New York 18 to 20 times a year. My wife has actually been pretty good friends and has been able to stay in tough with [Ryan's wife] Heather Zimmerman. The Zimmermans have made this a very easy transition. They have allowed us to use their real estate agent to try to find a place around here. Very accommodating. We're looking forward to seeing them in person now that we've been staying in touch with text messages. I've been able to get a hold of a couple of the guys. I know [Matt den Dekker] because we've played together. I've texted Michael Taylor, Tyler Moore and Gio, just being able to get a hold of a couple of guys to tell them how excited I am to be here," he said.
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