jranieli Posted August 22, 2008 Share Posted August 22, 2008 http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/met...story?track=rss When someone from the Mets' front office says that Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans eat, sleep and drink baseball, that's not really an exaggeration. The two live in a hotel about a one-hop throw from Shea Stadium, usually discuss that day's game over lunch in the lobby and only seem to emerge from the indoor batting cages in time for outfield practice with coach Ken Oberkfell. That's a little different from the lifestyles of most of their teammates, who either have a penthouse in Manhattan or a mansion in Greenwich and roll to Queens in an SUV bigger than the rookie's hotel room. With Murphy and Evans, however, you get the sense they'd live in a tent in the player's lot if it meant waking up another day in the major leagues. Even then, the two would probably share the tent. Murphy and Evans were roommates during their days together at Double-A Binghamton - both at home and on the road - but the Mets generously put them up in separate living quarters in Flushing. It's unclear if they have unobstructed views of the Unisphere, but the two could not be in a better situation: thrust into the middle of a playoff race. That's something neither David Wright nor Jose Reyes was forced to deal with in their rookie seasons with the Mets. But Murphy and Evans have excelled despite that additional pressure, which is a reflection of their mental strength as well as physical talents. "These guys have done a phenomenal job," Wright said. "Unfortunately, young guys have to learn at this level and that's what they're doing right now. It's not easy." Mix in the fact that both Murphy and Evans are essentially playing out of position - they started out as corner infielders - and that only increases the degree of difficulty. It helps that they have each other to get through the experience, and most of the time, they're just tag-teaming the leftfield duties as part of a platoon that manager Jerry Manuel plans to use for the remainder of the season. "We're pretty good friends," Murphy said. "We'll talk about what he did in the game, what I did in the game, the at-bats, the pitches." That buddy system has been working out better than anyone could have anticipated. Murphy, the lefthanded side of the platoon, was batting .404 (19-for-47) through Wednesday and had reached base safely in 18 of his first 19 games. Evans, who has logged 31 games in two separate stints, was hitting .276 (21-for-76) and already has as many doubles (eight) as Damion Easley in almost 200 fewer at-bats. Evans actually blazed the trail for Murphy when he was rushed from Binghamton to Denver on May 24 and made his major-league debut that same night - with three doubles. While both players have adjusted at the plate with surprising quickness, they can sometimes look a little shaky in the outfield. Luckily for the Mets, neither player has made a costly mistake to decide a game. And with Carlos Beltran covering a wide expanse of territory in center, he significantly cuts down that margin for error. Still, there's no way to completely mask that inexperience. Before this season, Murphy and Evans never played in stadiums with three decks, stuffed with more than 50,000 screaming fans. Every road trip means another unfamiliar ballpark, with its own unique challenges. Not that the two converted infielders need any more obstacles. Evans recalled a game earlier this season when he rushed in for a fly ball down the leftfield line and tried to make the catch with an awkward half-slide. The whole experience was about as familiar for him as a balance-beam routine. "That was the first time I ever did that," Evans said, smiling. "It can be a little nerve-racking. You never know what's going to happen out there." Despite those harrowing moments, it's a gamble that Manuel is willing to take because of the payoff at the plate. Murphy was batting .386 (17-for-44) against righthanded pitchers through Wednesday and Evans was hitting .362 (17-for-47) against lefthanders. That's solid production from a pair of players whose combined age (45) is only three years older than Moises Alou, who had a season-ending hamstring surgery. The Mets felt strongly enough about Murphy and Evans that they have refused to deal them in any trades for outfield or bullpen help. As for their long-term future with the club, or at least beyond the next five weeks, that remains uncertain. Murphy began working out at second base this year to make himself more versatile at the major-league level, but he's nowhere near ready to play that position for the Mets. Depending what the Mets decide to do with Carlos Delgado's option for 2009, both Murphy and Evans could be in the mix for some playing time at first base, as well as the outfield again. If so, they might want to look into an apartment some day, most likely in the same building. Farm report: Owen shows sterling stuff for B-Mets The Mets’ pitching depth in the minors just got a little deeper on Wednesday with the Double-A debut of Dylan Owen, the club’s 20th round draft pick in 2007 and Sterling Award winner last season at Class A Brooklyn. Owen, a 22-year-old righthander, allowed six hits and one run in six innings in Binghamton’s 4-2 victory over New Hampshire. He struck out five and walked two. Owen had eye-popping numbers in his first professional season for the Cyclones when he went 9-1 with a 1.49 ERA. Before his promotion this season, Owen was 12-6 with a 3.43 ERA at Class A St. Lucie and led the Florida State League with 116 strikeouts in 1332/3 innings. Owen’s two best pitches are a fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a plus slider, but he also throws a curve and changeup. He’s drawn favorable comparisons to Brian Bannister, who was dealt to the Royals in 2006 in the trade for Ambiorix Burgos. Stat of the week: Platoon's not plundering How the Daniel Murphy/Nick Evans platoon has performed since the July 31 trade deadline as compared to some of the other candidates for the position: Player(s) Avg. AB R H 2B HR RBI SO Murphy/Evans .349 83 15 29 6 2 13 13 Manny Ramirez (LA) .406 69 12 28 3 6 21 13 Raul Ibañez (SEA) .440 75 14 33 9 5 24 9 Jason Bay (BOS) .347 78 20 26 3 4 18 20 Xavier Nady (NYY) .328 67 6 22 3 5 15 16 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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