Tim Teufel talks about working with Daniel Murphy

Earlier this week at the B.A.T. dinner in New York City, Tim Teufel told reporters he will be the team’s infielder instructor this spring.

In regards to how he plans to help Daniel Murphy, and whether Murphy can ‘handle the position,’ Teufel said:

[jbox color="white"]“Well, I hope so. You know, he has some work to do. He’s played there before and he’s learned from that. He’s had knee problems and he needs to do better getting out of the way of contact – and that’s pretty much my job to help him in that area. … It’s all about feel out there. It’s very much a timing position. When you play in the middle of the field you have to know that contact is coming, it’s just a matter of when. We have to instill some timing with Murphy. This spring we will do some clockwork, put him on a clock to see the timing of things and feel the pressure. And also, how to get away from the pressure. Look, Murphy is a hard worker. … He’s very competitive in the batter’s box and I want to bring that same competitiveness to his defense.”[/jbox]

Murphy ended his last two seasons with medial collateral ligament injuries, which he suffered while playing second base.

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Brian Erni: I couldn’t agree more with what Teufel is saying about Murphy’s timing. A big component to avoiding or softening contact with a runner headed into second base comes from when you arrive at the bag and how you use it as protection. The earlier you get there isn’t necessarily better. Based on the feed from your shortstop, an effective way to work your feet around the bag is to receive the ball and push back or across the base to take yourself out of the runner’s sliding lane in one fluid motion. Sometimes, based on defensive positioning or because of a slow hit ball, a second baseman will arrive early and be waiting at the bag for the ball. Not only does that open up a larger injury risk, it limits the second baseman’s ability to get enough on his pivot throw to first base.

Murphy’s 2011 injury didn’t come as a failure to execute a double play, but his 2010 injury did. Learning to protect that leg by limiting the opportunities that runners have to slide into him will make or break whether Daniel can play the position full-time at the Major League level.

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Jon Scippa: Murphy actually ended up with a slightly higher zone rating than Ruben Tejada at second base last season, albeit in nearly 300 fewer innings.  Murphy is more naturally suited to play a corner infield position as he came up as a third baseman and has more innings at first in the majors than any other position.  If given 150+ games at second, he’s likely to produce below league average defense. However, his offense probably makes up for whatever negative value his glove will give the Mets at second (at least when comparing him to the team’s other options). Whether his bat makes up for his defense compared to league average is a different story…