The man who has the Arizona Coyotes playing like a playoff team — even though they won’t make the postseason — won’t be behind the bench Tuesday night.
First-year Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet is taking a leave of absence to deal with a family illness, so assistant coach John MacLean will coach them against the Los Angeles Kings, a team that is back in control of its playoff destiny.
Cole Hamels, Matt Moore and Doug Fister appear to be locks for the top three spots. Mike Minor remains a candidate, but could be switched to closer, a role he was effective in at the end of last season with Kansas City.
Left-hander Martin Perez threw 69 pitches in a minor league game Monday, allowing six runs, three earned, in four innings. He has been set back in spring training after breaking his right (non-pitching) elbow in December in an incident with a bull on his Venezuelan ranch. He could begin the season on the disabled list.
Clayton Blackburn, another rotation candidate, exited in the first inning in a Monday start against Cleveland with right elbow tightness. He will undergo further evaluation.
Murphy still doesn’t have a timetable as to when he’ll appear in a Grapefruit League game. Earlier this spring Murphy said he might only need a handful of at-bats to be ready for opening day.
Following the batting practice, Murphy said he’s pleased with the way his rehab is progressing.
“It’s nice to see ball flight,” Murphy said. “That you can’t really see — a little bit confined in the cage.”
Murphy’s only running this spring has come on a treadmill. He recently started fielding Cheap Embroidered NFL Jerseys groundballs.
“Not a ton of lateral movement right now,” Murphy said, “Just kind of right Cheap Dream Team Jerseys at me and hopefully we can kind of progress to ground balls a little bit further away.”
A three-time All-Star, Murphy hit .322 with 23 homers and 93 RBIs last season.