JUPITER, Fla. -- Lingering longer than expected, Daniel Murphy's sore right calf on Saturday forced the Mets second baseman out of his fifth straight game. Though Murphy said he is not worried about his readiness for Opening Day just yet, only seven games remain between now and March 31.
Manager Terry Collins originally hoped Murphy would return to the lineup Saturday against the Marlins. But when asked Saturday morning if he felt capable of playing at all next week, Murphy told reporters in Port St. Lucie, Fla., that it "is too early to say."
Later in the day, Murphy went 0-4 with a walk in a series of Minor League at-bats, running the bases only during pregame drills. Collins once again said after the game that he expects an imminent return to the lineup for Murphy.
"I'll see how he is in the morning," Collins said.
Though Murphy's injury is unlikely to force him out of Opening Day, it is frustrating the Mets for an entirely different reason. Collins specifically held Murphy and David Wright out of the first week of Grapefruit League games in an effort to prevent the nagging injuries that sidelined both players in recent springs. It worked for Wright, who is healthy and ready for the trip back north. But not for Murphy, who missed all but three spring games last year with a right intercostal strain.
Still, even if Murphy misses all of next week with his latest injury, his ability to jump into midseason form last year has him confident of doing the same in 2014. Despite limited spring at-bats, Murphy bounced back last summer with the best and most durable season of his career, setting career highs in plate appearances, home runs and stolen bases.