Still No Set Spot for Murphy in Rangers Lineup

Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010  |  Updated 6:00 PM CDT
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Still No Set Spot for Murphy in Rangers Lineup

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ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 26: Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia #21 celebrates a run with David Murphy #7 of the Texas Rangers in the second inning against the San Diego Padres on June 26, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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David Murphy has started in every slot of the Texas batting order -- one through nine -- and only teammates Michael Young and Ian Kinsler have played more games for the Rangers the past three seasons.

"He is ready for anything. He should be commended for it," manager Ron Washington said. "You've got a guy who feels like he can be an everyday guy. But when you look at our situation, he has to get his at-bats how he gets his at-bats."

Murphy still doesn't have a set spot in the Rangers lineup, even after outfielder Marlon Byrd left in free agency over the winter.

Texas is planning to use young speedster Julio Borbon to lead off and play center field, and is shifting All-Star Josh Hamilton to left field. The Rangers have emerging slugger Nelson Cruz in right and signed Vladimir Guerrero to be the primary designated hitter and a part-time outfielder.

"Right now, I can't say what my role is exactly, how many at-bats I'm going to get," Murphy said. "I am confident that I will be on the field playing. ... I just need to control what I can control, play my game. Do the little things and do everything well, and I won't have to worry."

Since returning home to Texas after being acquired at the July trading deadline in 2007, in the deal that sent closer Eric Gagne to Boston, Murphy has played 279 games. The only current Rangers with more are Young (446), the team's longest tenured player, and Kinsler (395).

"Murph knows how important he is to us. We certainly need him to be successful going into this year, and hopefully many years going forward," Washington said. "So he's not a forgotten man."

Murphy has hit .279 for Texas with 34 homers, 145 RBIs and 141 runs scored. He has started games at all three outfield spots and served as the DH. He had a day off Tuesday when Texas played AL West rival Oakland, but is 3-for-9 with a double and a triple in his three spring games so far.

"I've tried to just prove that I can do a lot of different things, that I'm not just a guy that can hit for average or can hit for power," Murphy said. "I believe that I've shown that I can be pretty consistent at the major league level and that I can fill a lot of different roles. ... I can be the run scorer or the guy that drives in runs."

But Murphy got off to a miserable start last season. He was hitless his first 23 at-bats before homering April 26 at Baltimore, the second-longest hitless streak ever for a Ranger to start a season. Ted Kubiak started 0 for 25 in 1972, the franchise's first year in Texas.

"It was definitely miserable at the time, but a good lesson to learn and something that I think I'm a better player because I experienced that," Murphy said. "I learned you can't afford to worry in this game, can't put too many expectations on yourself. ... I was the one that put expectations on myself and I kind of created a little bit of pressure and maybe caused my own downfall there."

Murphy rebounded to hit .269, third-best on the team among players with at least 200 at-bats. He was second on the team in walks (49) and on-base percentage (.338) while setting career bests for games played (128), at-bats (432), hits (116), and home runs (17).

"I've learned so much and this spring, I feel focused," Murphy said. "I feel like I have a clear mind. I know what I need to do to help this team win, and it's nice. The first years were still trying to establish yourself and this spring, all I'm trying to do is prepare."

For whenever and wherever the Rangers need him.

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