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Interview: Texas Rangers OF David Murphy

David Murphy (Image from Sons of Sam Horn)

Mike, A.J. and I attended a Reebok media event mainly for the free shoes, shirts and shorts, but we were able to squeak out a couple interviews. We approached David Murphy as he was checking out the new, award-winning Vector O-Bat and asked him questions about his experience as a professional baseball player. So without further delay, here is the definitive Sports of Boston interview with David Murphy of the Texas Rangers.

Does it ever get demoralizing being in the minors behind all theses All-Stars?

“Yeah, I mean, I never thought I wouldn’t get an opportunity, but the fact that you don’t know when it’s going to happen can be very frustrating. I think once you get your first taste of the big leagues and then get sent down to the minor leagues it’s tough to deal with. My first [Major League] stint was only 22 at-bats, some good ad some bad, but 22 at-bats isn’t a very good sample size to tell whether you’re ready for the big leagues or not so I was hungry to get the true and extended opportunity to prove that I could play at that level.”

Is it hard knowing that if you were on a team like Kansas City, Tampa Bay, or Seattle that you would be playing in the big leagues?

“There’s no guarantee ever, but you see the way things happen in other organizations and it’s only human to compare yourself to other players’ situations. You think ‘where would I be if I got drafted by another organization,’ but everything happens for a reason and I’m in a great spot now. I’m thankful for my time with the Red Sox organization, but playing in my home state [Texas] for a team that I was able to watch growing up is huge. To be part of an organization on the way up, with a lot of young talent that had a pretty good year to build on, it’s exciting being part of that environment.”

Is it harder or is it easier playing in Pawtucket or Portland where it’s so close to Boston?

“In Portland you realize that you still have one level to go, but in Pawtucket it’s difficult because you’re right on the doorstep. That’s where baseball is mental because you really have to tell yourself to play hard every day to get where you want to be.”

Texas was in the Wild Card race this year, do you think you’re going to build on that in 2010 and make the playoffs?

“There are a lot of wild cards if you look at our pitching staff. We had a lot of success this year because our young pitching staff succeeded. If Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Neftali Feliz can step up and build on the years that they had in 2009, then we’re going to be in pretty good shape because our offense definitely underachieved this year. re going to bWe’ve got enough bats to score a lot of runs and if we’re hitting on all cylinders we ae a pretty dangerous team.”

How big of a blow was Josh Hamilton’s injury?

“It was a big blow. If he would have had a 2009 like he had in 2008 who knows where we might have been? At the same time, we respect what the Angels are and they’re a great team. You can’t say if Josh would’ve done well or if our offense would’ve done in 2009 what it did in 2008, that we would have overtaken the Angels and been in the postseason. At the same time, you don’t want to look back and say ‘what if Michael Young didn’t get hurt September 1st’ or ‘what if Josh Hamilton had a great year.’ You hate asking those questions. When the season ends and you summarize it, you want to say we did everything we needed to do, but we just came up short. I think we learned a lot of things to go into 2010 that are going to make us a better team.”

What’s it like being traded at the trade deadline?

“It’s kind of weird. It’s tough to go through such an extreme change and I think you can look at it like that way in life and in baseball. I think the toughest part is just you’re going to a new environment where you are out of your comfort zone and you don’t know any of the guys. You’re trying to make a good first impression on everybody and I think I turned that into a positive. I knew that Boston valued me as a player, but I felt like they didn’t see me as anything more than a bench player when I was in the minor leagues with them. I felt that when I got traded that was my opportunity to go to an organization where nobody knew who I was and really say ‘OK I’m going to go and make a good first impression and show these guys that I’m capable to play in the big leagues every day.’ I took advantage of every opportunity that I got.”

Is it tough to play when you know your name is being thrown around in trade rumors?

“The funny thing is that in 2007 there weren’t any rumors at all like there were in previous years. So in 2007 I didn’t think it was going to happen at all, which is a good thing. In 2006, there were some rumors and it affected the way I played because I wondered if there were scouts in the stands or if what I did in that day or single at bat had anything to do with me getting traded or not. I think I realized that it was in my best interest to get traded because of the outfield situation in Boston, so I knew that getting out of Boston was probably the best thing for my career.”

Why do players see a boost in their performance after a trade?

“It’s all mental. This game can get monotonous sometimes, but it’s all about how you take the game mentally. After I got traded, I couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark every day because I wanted to prove myself. I think when you have that adrenaline to make that impression and just to get the opportunity in the big leagues every single day, I don’t know, it brings out the best in you. My body felt great every day, I felt like I was running on adrenaline every single day and I was just on a high. My mechanics were perfect and my mind was clear so I just had to go out and play the game the way that I knew how. I knew it was the same game, just a little faster with better talent, and I succeeded right off the bat so I was easy to relax after I had a good first week or two.”

Did it help that you were traded to your hometown?

“It definitely did because you want to take advantage of the opportunity, but especially because I had the opportunity [to stay close to home]. It’s tough being a baseball player where you go to spring training for two months, the season lasts six months and then you go home for the offseason. It’s basically like you have three different homes in the year. If I had the opportunity to play for the Rangers that meant I could basically live at home all year long except for the two months of spring training. I think that’s a huge advantage for someone with a family and young kids, which I have.”

What was it like to get traded and then, in the next couple months, see the Red Sox win the World Series?

“It was bittersweet because I was happy for all the guys that I had come up with like, Pedroia, Papelbon and Lester, but at the same time I was jealous seeing those guys dog pile on the field. At the same time, I knew that I wasn’t really a part of it even though I was fortunate enough to get a ring and spent four days in the Major League’s with the Red Sox in 2007. I am very grateful that I got that ring and that I was part of that team, but I do want to truly earn one and be part of a big league team for an entire year and win a championship.”

Do you still keep in contact with any players on the Red Sox?

“My best friend probably is Brandon Moss and Chris Smith. I mean, Dustin Pedroia and I text a little, like when his little boy was born and seeing how his wife is doing since that was a scary time for them. Just that sort of thing.”

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