With opt-out looming, Red Sox outfielder David Murphy says he’s unlikely to accept assignment to minors and would consider retirement
|03.21.16 at 1:09 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Murphy’s opt-out looms on Sunday, and not only is the veteran outfielder disinclined to accept an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket, but if he doesn’t land a big league job, he’d consider retirement.
Speaking to WEEI.com at JetBlue Park after a morning workout, Murphy discussed his bid to make the roster, which may have looked like a longshot when he signed on Feb. 29, but suddenly has some legs, thanks to the struggles of left fielder Rusney Castillo and repeated proclamations by manager John Farrell that the primary determining factor in building this year’s roster will be which players give the Red Sox the best chance to win.
“I think I’m to the point in my career where I’ve played plenty of baseball, and I don’t think I’m interested in playing in the minor leagues,” Murphy said. “I have four kids. My kids and my wife put up with a lot to go through with this game. When you’re a kid and you dream of playing this game, you dream of being a big leaguer. I would love to play until somebody tells me I can’t play anymore, until they rip the shirt off my back, but I think it’s got to be a big league situation.”
And if it’s not? What if Murphy’s March 27 opt-out arrives and not only do the Red Sox not have a roster spot for him, but no one else does, either?
“Retirement is definitely a possibility there,” Murphy said. “I don’t know. The way that everything has gone this offseason, something like that has crept up kind of quickly. It would definitely be part of my thought process, but I really don’t know. I’d have to take a little bit of time to think about it, or to go home and stay in shape and wait for a phone call. There are so many variables, so many possibilities, that I didn’t think I would have to think about this year. But it is what it is.”
The Red Sox know what they’re getting with the 34-year-old, who was Theo Epstein’s first draft pick back in 2003. He earned a World Series ring for appearing in three games with the 2007 Red Sox, and then went on to make three postseason appearances (including two World Series losses) with the Rangers.
The left-hander with a swing once compared to Fred Lynn owns a lifetime OPS of .795 against right-handed pitching. He hit .283 with 10 homers and a .739 OPS between Cleveland and Anaheim last year. He may not be a star, but he’s solid, an impression he has cemented in camp, where he’s hitting .292 with a pair of doubles.
“I feel like I got off to a good start and I think the quick start and hitting the ground running here kind of caught up with me a little bit,” Murphy said. “I had some heavy legs for about a week and had to fight through that. I think overall, spring training has been good. It hasn’t been great, but it is spring training. I’m a veteran player. I feel like basically I’ve shown me. I’ve played this game long enough, even coming in, they probably knew what they were getting, and I’ve probably furthered that here. I’ve basically been myself.
“I haven’t necessarily stood out in any form or fashion, but I think throughout the course of my career, it’s not like I’ve done that for the most part. I’ve been a winning player on winning teams, but I haven’t been right in the middle of everything.”
If Murphy wins a job, it would likely be at the expense of Castillo, who has minor league options remaining and hasn’t taken camp by storm. The left-handed Murphy and the right-handed Chris Young also complement each other well.
“It’s really hard to say,” Murphy said. “I can’t put myself up against players. I’m confident in myself as a winning player. Players I’m up against, I haven’t seen play enough. It’s one thing if I’m talking about a guy like Chris Young, who’s definitely going to be on the team, that I’ve known for a long time and I’ve played against. I’ve never seen Rusney Castillo play. I’ve never played against him. All I’ve seen is the little I’ve seen of him this spring. The same with Travis Shaw. Obviously that guy can hit. I don’t think I can really make a judgement call based on the little bit I’ve seen this spring.”
He does believe there’s an opportunity, however, which is what brought him to Boston in the first place.
“I’m very respectful of the people in this clubhouse and the players around me, and know that there’s plenty of talent in here,” Murphy said. “I know that the current situation I’m in, not necessarily with the team or me personally, but just being with the Boston Red Sox — the Boston Red Sox are always a win-now franchise. So they are going to do whatever they can so that leaving spring training, the 25-man roster shakes up to whatever they think is going to produce the most possible wins in 2016.”
Murphy and the Red Sox have six days to determine if they’re a match.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and enjoy this week. I knew coming into this situation that I could possibly go out there and do everything I needed to do and still not be on this team. Hopefully I am, but we’ll see how this week goes and what I hear at the end of the week.”
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