SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Colorado Rockies saw how much Daniel Murphy wanted his first season with the team to be a memorable one.
That eagerness may have backfired.
General manager Jeff Bridich said the veteran first baseman may have rushed back too soon from a broken left index finger he injured diving for a sharp grounder in the second game of the year at Miami. He missed nearly a month, but perhaps should have waited longer.
“So the reality of his season by 48 hours deep was just bad luck, broken finger playing a game,” Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich said Tuesday at the winter meetings. “He probably came back too quickly, and for the right reasons.
“Anytime a guy switches to a new team, a new organization, he’s built to want to hold up what he signed up for. I know he was frustrated at the time and wanting to get back to try to do his part and feeling responsible to that. Looking back on it, he probably came back too early. That didn’t help, either.”
Murphy wore a splint on the finger but never got on track. He was limited him to 132 games, batting .279 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs.
Murphy signed a $24 million, two-year contract last December to join Colorado, which wound up second-to-last in the NL West at 71-91 — one win better than the last-place Padres.
“I think everybody understands why he did it and why he was pushing,” Bridich said.
Colorado also has plans to help Murphy improve defensively, including positioning him closer to first base. Murphy made nine errors at first last season.
The 34-year-old Murphy was an All-Star in 2014 for the Mets and again in 2016 and ’17 while with Washington. Those two years for the Nationals were the best of his career. In 2016, he had 25 homers, 47 doubles and a career-high 104 RBIs, then the next season added 23 homers, 43 doubles and drove in 93 runs.
“There’s a certain fit on the club, there’s a certain skill set offensively that he has that fits on our club and complements other guys on our club,” Bridich said. “I think him learning about some of the altitude, about playing in altitude more often than he ever had in his lot of time spent in the National League, I think that was real for him.
“I think if we can just have a normal kind of season for him, he’s going to plug in and just probably be the consistent, quality at-bat that we thought he would be last year.”
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