Washington: Murphy 'good enough athlete' to play first

Washington: Murphy 'good enough athlete' to play first

WASHINGTON -- There is a memorable scene from the movie Moneyball, in which Athletics general manager Billy Beane is trying to convince former catcher Scott Hatteberg to move to first base, and Beane enlists infield coach Ron Washington's help to persuade him.

Beane turns to Washington for confirmation that first base is easy to play. Washington contradicts him by saying it's hard.

Now Washington, as manager of the Rangers, is contradicting himself. He started Donnie Murphy at first base on Sunday in order to give Mitch Moreland a day off. Murphy has never played first base in his career.

"I think everybody can play first base," Washington said, before being reminded of what he said in the movie.

"I think Murphy is a good enough athlete where he can play first base for one day," Washington amended.

Moreland was given the day off, because he is dealing with a sore left ankle and some back stiffness. Moreland, who had started eight games in the No. 3 hole, went into Sunday with five hits in his last 26 at-bats. The Rangers are off on Monday before opening up a nine-game homestand on Tuesday.

"This will give him two days to settle down," Washington said.

Murphy has played 109 games at third base in his career, 86 at second base and 73 at shortstop. He even played two innings in left field back in 2008. But he has never played first base and hadn't even worked out there before getting a crash course on Sunday from Washington and bench coach Tim Bogar.

"I was sitting, having breakfast and they told me I was playing first base," Murphy said."This is something new, but Wash told me just to catch the ball. The challenge is going to be the ground ball between me and second base, when to go get it. But a ground ball is a ground ball."

Robinson Chirinos has five games of Major League experience at first base, but Washington did not want both his catchers on the field at the same time. Chris Gimenez started at catcher on Sunday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.