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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Daniel Murphy isn’t sure whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

“I’m generally optimistic that when they put me in the lineup, I won’t come out,” Murphy said Tuesday when asked about his chances of being ready for the Washington Nationals‘ season opener against the Cincinnati Reds on March 29.

“You see these guys bouncing around and playing, you want to participate and be playing with your teammates,” said Murphy, who was the only position player not to participate in team drills Tuesday, one day before the Nats’ first official full-squad workout. “But I think it’s the understanding of when they loose me, when the training staff lets me go and it’s time to play, you only want to come off the DL once. I don’t want to start playing games and then have to stop. So that’s kind of the mindset we’re taking right now.”

New manager Dave Martinez echoed the sentiments of his veteran second baseman.

“I’m more concerned about rushing him and him not being fully ready,” Martinez said. “When we get him back, we don’t want him to go back on the DL, we want to get him back for the whole season.”

Murphy had debridement and microfracture surgery on his right knee in mid-October, shortly after Washington fell to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. More than four months later, he has regained full range of motion and is running at 60 percent weight-bearing on a treadmill, though he hasn’t yet been cleared to take swings.

“I’m excited about the progress,” said the 32-year old veteran, whose .322 average last season ranked second in the National League. “I think the work has been good. Currently right now, a lot of strengthening in the weight room, starting to get introduced to some baseball activities. Right now, it’s mostly just laying on the strength as much as we can to get my body and my leg ready.”

If Murphy isn’t ready by Opening Day, Washington has multiple options. Among them are 25-year-old infielder Wilmer Difo, who hit .271 in 124 games last season and played stellar defense while filling in for injured shortstop Trea Turner. Veteran utility man Howie Kendrick, who re-signed with the Nationals this offseason (two years, $7 million), also has extensive experience at second base.

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Boston Red Sox closer Matt Barnes placed on COVID-19 injured list

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DETROIT — The Boston Red Sox placed closer Matt Barnes on the COVID-19 injured list on Tuesday.

Barnes is 5-2 with 23 saves and a 2.30 ERA, but hadn’t pitched since a save against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 28. The right-hander was put into quarantine after showing symptoms at the team’s hotel in Detroit and is awaiting test results.

Marwin Gonzalez returned to the active roster after being out since July 13 with a hamstring strain. He is hitting .205 while starting at all four infield positions, as well as left and right field.

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Milwaukee Brewers’ John Axford (elbow) heads to IL on heels of first MLB appearance since 2018

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Milwaukee Brewers reliever John Axford was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday, one day after his first major league appearance since 2018 was cut short by a right elbow injury.

The team recalled left-hander Angel Perdomo from Triple-A Nashville in a corresponding move, and also placed infielder Keston Hiura on the COVID-19 injured list.

The Brewers acquired the 38-year-old Axford — who started his major league career in Milwaukee and had his greatest success there — from the Toronto Blue Jays for $1 on Monday. The veteran right-hander pitched later that day against the Pittsburgh Pirates but retired just one of the five batters he faced before leaving with an elbow issue.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Monday that Axford would undergo an MRI.

Axford began this season as a studio analyst on the Blue Jays’ television broadcast crew.

After pitching for Canada in an Olympic qualifier, Axford signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays on June 24. Axford said his velocity got as high as 98 mph during that Olympic qualifier.

He went 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in nine relief appearances for the Blue Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo affiliate. Axford struck out 14 batters and allowed three walks and two hits in 10 2/3 innings. Opposing batters were hitting just .061 against him.

Axford collected 106 saves during his previous five-year stint in Milwaukee and ranks second to Dan Plesac (133) on the franchise’s career saves list.

Milwaukee’s bullpen has taken a hit lately with All-Star closer Josh Hader, Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave and Hunter Strickland all going on the COVID-19 injured list.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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New York Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery also tests positive for COVID-19

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A second member of the New York Yankees‘ starting rotation has tested positive for COVID-19.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery tested positive for the virus, manager Aaron Boone announced Tuesday. The news comes a day after the team said ace Gerrit Cole had tested positive.

Boone said “as of now” it’s the just the two pitchers who have tested positive and no other players will be unavailable due to contact tracing.

Both Montgomery and Cole will be sidelined at least 10 days from the date of their positive test under MLB’s protocols.

Earlier this month, star slugger Aaron Judge was among six Yankees players who tested positive for coronavirus.

Montgomery, 28, is 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 starts this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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