Murphy making noise in outfield mix
Rangers getting production from former Red Sox prospect
PHOENIX -- David Murphy is $1,000 richer, plus he's expecting a nice piece of jewelry in the mail.It's probably not going to be as nice or as big as the ones Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz will receive, but it's not bad compensation for what amounted to four days of work. The $1,000 is Murphy's share of the playoff pot that the Red Sox split up after winning the World Series last year. He also gets a World Series ring, although he's not sure if he'll wear it. "At this moment, off the top of my head, it just doesn't feel right," Murphy said. "It doesn't feel right. I was part of the team for just four days. We'll see when I get it if I'll wear it or if it goes in some trophy case." Maybe he could have received a bigger check or a bigger ring if he had stayed with the Red Sox for more than four days (June 22-25) but he prefers the opportunity he is getting with the Rangers. In less than a year, he has gone from being buried in the Red Sox farm system to being a fourth outfielder for the Rangers to being ... Well, the next step is uncertain, but Murphy is definitely making a serious bid to be one of the Rangers' regular outfielders. Josh Hamilton may be the most impressive player in camp this spring, but Murphy certainly isn't far behind and an Opening Day outfield of Marlon Byrd in left, Hamilton in center and Milton Bradley in right is now longer a certainty. If nothing else, Murphy is the reason why the Rangers are at least willing to listen when the Cubs call about Byrd, who is trying to fight his way out of an early slump. Murphy is also the reason why the Rangers don't have to be in panic mode if the odds of Bradley not being ready for Opening Day are increasing. Bradley, still recovering from knee surgery, has been unable to play the past two days. Playing for the first time this spring, Bradley was 3-for-5 with a walk while being used at designated hitter in a Minor League game on Friday. He has not played since because of what the Rangers describe as overall soreness. He'll try again on Monday, but he has yet to play the outfield this spring and the chances of him being ready to do so by Opening Day might be in doubt. Murphy is the Rangers' fallback option in any case, but his performance this spring suggests he may deserve more than a "Plan B" or "fourth outfielder" label.
"He's swinging the bat good, and he's playing well," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's in the mix. We have five [including Frank Catalanotto] quality outfielders."Murphy was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the Rangers' 9-7 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday and is hitting .417 (15-for-36) for the spring with four home runs and 10 RBIs. "He's not missing his pitch," Washington said, "and he's not missing any fastballs." This is a carryover from last season, when he was one of three players acquired from the Red Sox for pitcher Eric Gagne on July 31. After being in the Red Sox system behind Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, Murphy got a chance to play for the Rangers and hit .340 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 43 games and 103 at-bats. "I just came in here wanting to make the team," Murphy said. "That's about it. I know I made a good impression last year, but I'm not done. I need to do more than make a good impression. I know baseball is about consistency. I need to show that what I did last year and so far this spring can continue in the future." The one thing people have noticed this spring is Murphy is stronger than last year. In the Rangers lineup, only Hamilton has been driving the ball with more authority. "I felt, coming into Spring Training last year, that I was stronger than I've ever been," Murphy said. "This offseason, having a new baby [Andrea on Aug. 3], I had a different offseason schedule and my workouts weren't the main thing to focus on. I don't know if I'm as strong as last spring, but in terms of hitting for power, it's not strength most of the time but finding that power stroke that makes a difference. "I've found it this spring. Hopefully I can keep it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.