Twelve days before the start of spring training, it's looking like Dale Murphy will spend the 1989 season with the Atlanta Braves after all.
Braves General Manager Bobby Cox said Friday that "the odds are" that Murphy won't be traded to the New York Mets or anyone else, despite the rumors flying around baseball since Atlanta's woeful 54-106 finish last fall.Cox has made no secret that he'll consider a major deal swapping Murphy for several players as the Braves try to jump back into contention. The Mets reportedly offered a package including outfielder Len Dykstra and third baseman Howard Johnson, but balked at including pitching prospect Dave West, whom the Braves - and several other teams - covet.
"If some club overwhelms us, we'll do something, maybe," Cox said.
Cox created a brief stir at a Friday luncheon with the Braves' "400 Club" booster organization, telling Murphy and a room full of fans, "There are some clubs still looking to get you, Murph, but we're not going to do anything."
He later conceded that he "was just talking" for the fans.
Cox said he has spoken with one other general manager regarding Murphy in the past five days, but nothing came of it.
Murphy, meanwhile, was walking with only a slight limp Friday, three days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight cartilage tear behind his right knee, which the 32-year-old outfielder said had caused no pain, but lots of "popping" noises.
"It feels great," Murphy said. "They just went in and took care of it. It's no big deal. . . . I'm expecting a minimum of inconvenience. I expect to be ready to go by the time I'm supposed to work out.
"I'm not concerned about this - at all."
Murphy, a seven-time all-star, said he expects to be able to go all-out as soon as spring training begins. Braves regulars report to the team's West Palm Beach, Fla., training camp Feb. 21, with the first workout scheduled the next day. Pitchers and catchers arrive Feb. 16.
Murphy said the continuing trade talk hasn't bothered him, although he has given it a lot of thought.
"I've thought about it all winter," he said. "But I'm not involved in it daily. I've been thinking about it, of course, but I can't really get into it too much."