Daniel Murphy trying to get knee 100 percent healthy before return

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.