Daniel Murphy getting help at 1B

NEW YORK -- Keith Hernandez has a new task for the New York Mets, moving down from the broadcast booth to give Daniel Murphy lessons at first base.

Murphy started last season in left field and had never played first in the major leagues before May 20, when the Mets made the abrupt shift following Carlos Delgado's hip injury. The 25-year-old made 10 errors in 101 games and didn't appear comfortable around the bag.

Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glove first baseman, spent two hours Monday and Tuesday instructing Murphy and Nick Evans at the Mets' training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. General manager Omar Minaya had called Hernandez last week asking for his teaching skills.

"I have one of the best first basemen of all time that have played the position there. It's my job to get as much information out of him as I can," Murphy said. "I want to be as athletic over there as Keith was. I want to be the guy that, you know, gets the lead runner, that makes an aggressive play and puts his body in a good spot."

Hernandez, who previously worked with Todd Zeile and John Olerud, thought Murphy did as well as he could when making the shift with little practice last year. Hernandez intends to speak with manager Jerry Manuel and probably will work with Murphy at times during spring training.

Murphy said he was unsure at times last year when to go after balls hit between himself and second baseman Luis Castillo.

"I think he needs to work on the footwork, getting comfortable around the bag when he's playing back," Hernandez said. "The bag becomes a part of you. It's like an appendage. Everything is just you move, and it's there. There's a comfort zone with the bag, and that's what he needs to get. And the only way he's going to do it is to take advantage of all this time in spring training doing the drills till he gets better at it."


The Mets are having a line drawn across the center-field fence near the Home Run Apple at Citi Field, cutting the height for a home run in that area from 16 feet to about 10 feet, a Mets official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no decision was announced. Elements of the change were first reported by the Daily News. ... The Mets also are opening a McFadden's restaurant in Citi Field for this season, the official said. There also is one in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Previously, the Mets announced they were constructing a team Hall of Fame near the Jackie Robinson Rotunda behind home plate. ... OF Angel Pagan agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract, settling the Mets' last arbitration case. He had asked for a raise from $625,000 to $1.8 million and had been offered $1,275,000. Pagan can earn $187,500 in performance bonuses: $12,500 for 300 plate appearances, and $25,000 each for 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600 and 650. ... The Mets claimed OF Jason Pridie off waivers from Minnesota and designated RHP Jack Egbert for assignment. The 26-year-old Pridie hit .265 with nine homers and 53 RBIs last year at Triple-A Rochester and appeared in one major league game, as a pinch runner.