Manuel confident in Murphy

Manuel confident in Murphy

NEW YORK -- Despite Daniel Murphy's struggles in transitioning to the outfield, manager Jerry Manuel is confident in his young left fielder.

"I told him, 'You are my left fielder [and] you are my second hitter,' " Manuel said. "I told him that [on Thursday]."

Murphy is just 24 years old, and his inexperience in the outfield has proved costly to the Mets in their first few games.

With Johan Santana and Florida's Josh Johnson locked in a pitching duel on Sunday, Murphy made an error in the second inning that was the difference in the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Marlins. Murphy dropped a fly ball, allowing the Marlins to tie the game and keep the offense alive to plate the go-ahead run.

On Wednesday night, Murphy committed a throwing error in the first inning and rushed another throw to cutoff man Luis Reyes. That fifth-inning toss bounced in front of Reyes and allowed Padres outfielder Scott Hairston to drive in San Diego's first run.

Manuel said on Thursday that the Mets are trying to take advantage of Reyes' strong infield arm and will continue to have Murphy relay the ball in instead of throwing directly home.

"Right now Murph still has an infield arm. He has an infield arm that is not quite equivalent to Reyes' [arm]," Manuel said. "And obviously, he's our left fielder, but if he can be able to make a transfer, Reyes can make the transfer and go home, we'd rather take that route."

Murphy's inexperience -- coupled with the vast outfield at Citi Field -- means that the Mets will use Reyes as a relay point until Murphy's arm has stretched out to "an outfield level."

There are some exceptions, as Manuel said he would be comfortable with Murphy throwing the ball directly home at smaller venues, such as Boston's Fenway Park.

Murphy's steep learning curve certainly isn't due to lack of effort. He has made it a point to take extra outfield practice, and he makes zero excuses for his miscues.

In fact, he could possibly be trying too hard.

"He probably has to exhale out there," Manuel said following Wednesday night's loss. "And the more that he's out there, the more comfortable he's going to get.

"I know he's going to work hard, I know he's going to try hard. I know he's going to try to do everything he can to become a good outfielder, but at the same time, you have to breathe out there a little bit. And it doesn't look like he was breathing too good early."

Fortunately for the Mets, Murphy hasn't let his defensive woes spill into other areas of the game.

Through Wednesday, he is batting .294 with four RBIs, and he hit out of the No. 2 hole again on Thursday. The only changes to the lineup from Wednesday were Ryan Church back in right field and Ramon Castro behind the plate.

The veteran Schneider has been struggling on the offensive end, going hitless (0-for-6) in the Mets' first two home games.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.