This past offseason the Cleveland Indians put focus again on their right field spot, a position that last season was manned for the most part by now Colorado Rockies OF Drew Stubbs. The Indians gave Stubbs an opportunity last season, and he just never got into a rhythm in the American League, hitting just .233 with just 17 steals.
The Tribe had their eyes on a player in free agency from the Texas Rangers, and in the end it was a decision by 32-year-old David Murphy that he and his wife don’t regret. One that as a Christian he prayed about before signing a two-year deal for $12 million with a club option for a third season. “I’m thankful for the way that I’m blessed every single day, and thankful that I was put here, and given this opportunity,” Murphy said.
After a tough spring that saw Murphy at one point go play some games for the Indians AAA and AA clubs, the Houston, TX native has settled in during the first month of the season, hitting .290 with two homers and 17 RBI in the team’s first 20 games. He came through Thursday in a win over the Kansas City Royals with a slap hit to left field that saw him simply throw his bat out and make contact enough to get an RBI single. “His [butt] was going the other way and the ball went that way, but he’s got really good hands,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the win. “He’s got such good hands that he either stays alive or he’ll waffle one down there.”
Last season Murphy had the worst season of his now nine-year Major League career, hitting just .220 with 13 homers and 45 RBI for the Rangers. Murphy before last season had never hit below .269 in a season, and the year before hit .304. Coming to the Indians after seven years with the Rangers was a change, but one that he’s embraced so far. “Coming to a new team you try and get your feet wet, things have gone well so far,” Murphy said. “As a team, we are up and down a little bit, we have yet to hit our stride, I feel like once we do things will start to go well.”
Murphy hit just .204 this spring, but was anxious to start hitting and getting going for his new team, and right now the hard work is paying off. “I came over here, things didn’t feel great in spring, or the first week, but I feel The Lord has provided for me and I kind of got my feel back, just trying to go off of that,” Murphy said. “Trying to take a small approach, which with how balanced this lineup is there’s no reason for me to come in here and try to do too much.”
While the streak Murphy has been on has been good, he knows that it’s early in the season, and he’s seen good and bad streaks before. “The longer you’ve been around this game it helps, I’ve had a year where I have hit under .100 in April,” Murphy said. “Whether you’re doing great, or not so great, it’s April, and there’s five months to go in the season, there’s plenty of change that’s going to happen up or down or either way, so my thing is to just find a level of consistency.”
He’s given the Indians a solid level of consistency they haven’t seen at the right field spot in some time, and if he can keep it up, it’s a pickup that could pay off huge for the team for the remainder of 2014 and beyond.