Hello everybody and welcome to texasrangers.com. I am Chuck Morgan, and we're at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and we want you to listen real close because there is serious baseball work going on right now. We are right behind the Rangers' indoor batting cage, and like I said, there is some serious baseball working being done. They are getting ready to go to Spring Training, and we're getting ready for the first signs of spring, as the Rangers Sluggers of the West Awards Dinner is coming up on Friday, Jan. 23 and Rangers Fan Fest is coming up on Saturday, Jan. 24.
A lot of things are happening in the month of January as we get ready for the Rangers going to Spring Training to start the 2009 season, but right now we have Rangers outfielder David Murphy.
Chuck: David, how are you doing?
David: Good, Chuck, how are you?
Chuck: Are you doing some serious baseball work?
David: I'm starting to. I've been conditioning and working out all offseason. January is here, and I've just picked up a bat for the first time this week. I'm excited to get into it, and I think once the New Year gets here, I think everyone gets the itch to get to Spring Training.
Chuck: We got some questions from some fans, but first I'm going ask you how are you feeling since the collision with Pudge [Ivan Rodriguez] way back in August?
David: I feel pretty good. You know, from talking to team trainers and team doctors, I think my recovery has been a little slower than it could have been, or than they expected, but I guess the point is if I had to play today or tomorrow, I could. I still have a little bit of pain, but I'm a lot better than I was.
Chuck: That was a tough break for you because you were having a great year and you were leading rookies in just about everything. But you were pretty happy with the season you had, right?
David: I was. You know, it was disappointing because we were playing so well up to that point and it really seemed like we were starting to take off. We didn't, I think, as a team live up to that expectation that we believe we could, but we did a lot of positive things going into this year that I think we can build on.
Chuck: Our first question -- what do you like to do outside of baseball?
Question submitted by: Blake Arlington
David: I'm a big family guy. I have a wife and two kids that are one-and-a-half years old and three months old. That keeps me very busy. I like to hang out with them during the offseason. I like to go to the movies, play golf, play ping-pong and play pool -- anything fun like that. I'm big into that type of stuff.
Chuck: What's the latest movie you've seen?
David: I saw the "Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and it was a good movie that was definitely worth seeing. I don't want to give any of it away, but it's an interesting idea. I feel like movies today repeat themselves, like people are running out of ideas, but this movie is a new idea.
Chuck: After a better season than usual, do you think that next year the Texas Rangers could go to the playoffs or have a winning season? We've got the players.
Question submitted by: Michael Vivier
David: I totally agree. If you look at Josh Hamilton being huge last year; Ian Kinsler was having an MVP-type of year if he hadn't gotten hurt; [and] Michael Young is a perennial All-Star. It hurts that we lose a guy like Milton Bradley, but if you look at what our offense is capable of, I think we'll recover well without him. When you have guys like [Kevin] Millwood and [Vicente] Padilla to anchor the rotation, I think we'll be fine.
Chuck: My dream is playing in the big leagues for the Rangers. What is it like playing for the Rangers and what do you think I should do to become a better contact hitter?
Question submitted by: Trent Finley
David: Playing for the Rangers is incredible. It's funny, because I grew up in Houston as an Astros fan. It was never my dream to play for the Rangers, but playing with the Red Sox and being traded over here and coming back to Texas was huge to play in my home state.
To become a better contact hitter, I don't know, I would say just lessen your movement at the plate, get your foot down early and try to see the ball as long as you can. If you're swinging at the ball right out of the pitchers hand, you're not seeing the ball long enough and you might not pick up some late movement on the ball.
Chuck: You have played all three outfield positions. Which do you prefer and which is most challenging in Arlington, considering the jet stream and wind patterns?
Question submitted by: Kent Anderson
David: The most challenging is definitely left field, since it's so big. If you catch me on certain days, I may say I prefer either center or right, but I think it's whatever I play the most of that I get used to, because I came up in the Minor Leagues as a center fielder. I enjoy playing center, but when I came over here, I played a lot of right field last year and I think I got comfortable in right field. Left is difficult because it's so big and early in the game the sun is in my eyes for a few innings, but obviously it's something you have to get over. And if you want to be a well-rounded outfielder, then you play all three.
Chuck: How do you, as a left-handed hitter, approach hitting against left-handed pitchers? The same as righties or is there a difference?
Question submitted by: Matt Elmore
David: I wouldn't say there is a huge difference. The breaking balls are going to break away from you, as opposed to into you. I think it's a little more difficult to pick up the ball out of their hand. If you get loaded up a little earlier and get your foot down sooner, that's going to help you to pick it up. I also try to emphasize to hit the ball out front. If I get it too deep, then I might foul off a pitch that I should have hit pretty well.
Chuck: Did you go to the Dane Cook concert? I'm pretty sure I was standing right next to you, but I didn't want to bother you.
Question submitted by: Nick Bahh
David: I remember going to the concert and being recognized by somebody. I didn't really think a lot of it. You know, it's interesting, you never know who you're going to run into when you're out in public.
Chuck: Did you have a good time?
David: I did. He's a different comedian. He's funny, but he's kind of hard to explain. You would have to hear some of his jokes in his act.
Chuck: What is the key to getting a good jump on a fly ball?
Question submitted by: Morgan Hamblen
David: I think it's a lot about instincts. What Gary Pettis, our outfield coach, teaches us is to watch the ball right out of the pitcher's hand. I think a lot of guys try to look in the hitting zone and watch the ball off the bat, instead of watching out of the pitcher's hand. Gary Pettis has taught me that, and I think it's helped. He won a Gold Glove, and he said a lot of the Gold Glove-caliber outfielders do the same.
Chuck: Did the players or coaches ever mix up you and Kameron Loe?
Question submitted by: Jessica Martinez
David: I've heard that a lot that I look similar to Kam Loe, but it's funny. I can see that we both have a longer face; he's a little taller than me and I have a little more hair, where he [has] pretty much none. I don't have a snake. Personally, I don't see it, but I've looked at myself in the mirror my whole life.
Chuck: All the greats have nicknames. Did anyone dub you anything in school or the Minors?
Question submitted by: Andrew Wales
David: Murph has always been what people call me ever since I was in Little League.
Chuck: How is it being back in the state of your alma mater of Baylor? And, has your old coach, Steve Smith, talked with you to give you any advice?
Question submitted by: Ross Utley
David: It's not that he's giving me any advice, but we enjoy just talking baseball. I enjoy asking him about how his players are doing, how the team is doing, how recruiting is going, that sort of thing. He asks me how the big leagues are. He'll make it out to the games a bunch [with] the Indians, because Kelly Shoppach also went to Baylor. And he'll come out to see Jason Jennings, who's on the [Rangers] team as well. It's good to be close to him.
Chuck: I'm sure you were excited about being drafted by the Red Sox, but I'm sure you're glad to be back in Texas, too.
David: I think you can't replace the sense of pride for playing in your home state and playing in a place where you grew up watching games. I said before that I was a huge Astros fan, but I was up here a bunch and saw plenty of Rangers games growing up. The Red Sox have a great tradition. There are so many players that played for them. They have a huge fan base across the country. But, like I said, when it comes to playing in your home state, there is a special sense of pride that kind of brings out the best in you.
Chuck: David Murphy's favorite Houston Astro?
David: [Craig] Biggio and [Jeff] Bagwell were both so good, I'm not sure I could pick between one of them. I was so amazed by both of them. Right when I started watching baseball is right when both of their careers began, and I was amazed just watching both of them.
Chuck: David, do you have a certain approach each time you step up to the plate? And, what are you thinking as the pitch is coming?
Question submitted by: J.R. Peterson
David: You differ your approach a bit depending on what type of pitcher it is. Whether it's a power pitcher or finesse guy, you have to know the scouting report, what type of pitches he's going to throw. That helps your approach. Then it depends on what the situation is, what the score is, where the runners are on base. But I think the basic approach is I'm going to go up there and try to use the middle of the field. If I try to go the opposite way, like I said earlier, if it's a lefty and I let the ball get too deep and I tend to foul pitches off. If I try to pull everything, then I get ground balls and I ground out to second or first base. So, try to stay in the middle of the field and try to square things up to hit a line drive. If you worry about hitting home runs, then you're going to get yourself in trouble and strike out a little bit.
Chuck: What is it like when you hit walk-off single?
Question submitted by: Emily Gray
David: I've only hit a few walk-off home runs in my career -- it's been a while. But I think getting a walk-off hit, period, is the best feeling you can have in a game. I had two opportunities to do it this year, and to be able to celebrate with your team on the field like that after the game is fun. It's great for the team, and it gives you a lot of momentum going into the game the next day.
Chuck: My son is 10 and he loves to play. What was baseball like for you as a child?
Question submitted by: Thom Redmond
You grew up in one of the great hotbeds for youth baseball in America, in Spring, Texas, so I bet you played a lot of baseball growing up.
David: My dad was around all the time and was my coach for a while. As I grew up, he got me as much exposure as possible. He would get me to play on a bunch of teams. Sometimes I would be playing on two or three different teams in a single day and be driving all over the city of Houston, but at the same time, like I said, it was good because it gave me a lot of exposure. I think playing the game is what is going to make you better. You can practice all you want, but playing in a game situation is the type of thing that will make you better. I think it was perfect, the way I grew up. I started slow -- I played 20-30 games a year. Then, once I was 14 or 15, I started playing on travel teams, traveling around the state and around the country. I did everything I needed to do to prepare for high school baseball, which, in turn, got me a college scholarship and got me drafted to the big leagues.
Chuck: I don't know if they can hear the bats next door, but it makes me ready for Spring Training. Are you ready to roll?
David: Definitely -- I can't wait. I think I'm leaving in about a month [from Jan. 9], and games start in about a month and a half. It can't come soon enough right now.
Chuck: David, we appreciate your time today.
David: Thank you.
Chuck: Everybody, that was David Murphy, Rangers outfielder. [He] had a great season last year, and we're looking forward to great things from David in 2009. Don't forget the Awards Dinner is coming up Friday, Jan. 23, Fan Fest on Saturday, Jan. 24, and for everything on Texas Rangers baseball, be sure to visit texasrangers.com.