Daniel Murphy could be heard well before he arrived at 2017 Nationals Winterfest. The metallic sound from his crutches pinged off the hard convention center floors each time he moved forward. Murphy needed to sitdown for his interview session with reporters, his leg far from healed following offseason microfracture surgery.
Murphy hesitated to put a timetable on his return. Surprisingly, Mike Rizzo was quite specific when saying they expected Murphy to be ready for Opening Day. Rizzo is extreme in his reticence to dispatch injury information. Hearing him suggest a date for Murphy’s return was surprising. That it was significantly off the mark was not.
An 0-for-4 on June 12 marked Murphy’s debut. Game 65. It also screamed about what can happen to plans and projections.
Rest Ryan Zimmerman in spring training so he can be healthy? Good idea. Didn’t work. Bring back veteran setup relievers? Reasonable idea. Didn’t work. Play a recuperating Adam Eaton heavily at the start of the season? Not a great idea. Didn’t work.
Rizzo always starts with a logical premise: maximize everything you can on paper, fill voids as they hit. He’s not a soothsayer. But part of his job is to attempt to be.
The Nationals thought leaving their rotation intact would give them a baseline for wins. Made sense. Didn’t work. They thought left field could be filled by Howie Kendrick and Matt Adams. Hmm. Well. Didn’t work, but Juan Soto to the rescue there.