ARLINGTON -- It's been nearly a month since David Murphy collided with Ivan Rodriguez at home plate and sprained his right knee. Since then, Murphy has run on the knee, taken batting practice and done some light fielding work. But the swelling that resulted from running last Wednesday, when Murphy pushed the knee too far, hasn't subsided, and now he's unable to do anything. Murphy continues to have the knee examined by team doctors and plans to travel with the Rangers when they hit the road next week, but he has no idea when he'll return to action. If nothing else, he hopes a starting outfield spot will still be waiting for him if he can't return until next season.
"That's a long ways away," Murphy said. "Coming off this season, I'd feel like an everyday player going into next season. But in this sport, nothing is really given. With the type of year I've had, you still have to go out and perform. That's the nature of the game." In 107 games this season, Murphy has proven worthy of starting. He's posted a .275 average, and despite being out since Aug. 6, still ranks second on the team in RBIs, third in stolen bases, fourth in home runs, and fifth in doubles and runs scored. Those numbers make Murphy a contender for the American League Rookie of the Year. His odds at bringing home the hardware would greatly improve if he could only return to action. Regardless of any awards for which Murphy might be considered, he just wants to play, which is why he tried turning his rehabilitation up a notch last Wednesday. "I felt like I had to push it. I can deal with a little discomfort," Murphy said. Murphy last met with team doctors Monday, and the results showed there was still swelling and discomfort in the knee. As long as the Rangers are at home, he can continue to have the doctors monitor his status. But Murphy said he would travel with the team when the Rangers hit the road after this weekend in case his status takes a turn for the better. "I'm planning on going with them," Murphy said. "The way I've felt has been so sporadic, I don't know how it will feel. There's a chance four days into the road trip I'll be able to come back, so if I don't go, I wouldn't get that opportunity." After his most recent setback, though, Murphy is hesitant to push his knee to the point of further injuring himself. If his knee doesn't improve enough to allow him to play soon, the Rangers may decide to shut him down for the rest of the season. "I think we would have to. Say we get to the middle of September, and they aren't ready to go," said manager Ron Washington, also referring to injured second baseman Ian Kinsler. "What's the good in trying to make them play? We're not going to rush it. The interest goes to their health." So if Murphy isn't able to return by season's end, the question turns to what 2009 has in store for him. Josh Hamilton seems to be the only current Rangers player with a starting outfield spot locked up for next season. According to Washington, Murphy is in line to claim a starting place in the outfield, as well. "He turned himself into an everyday player this year," Washington said. "You may get sat because of a matchup issue, but that doesn't mean you're not an everyday player."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.