Tom Murphy struggled after finally getting his chance with the Colorado Rockies this season. A hairline fracture in his right forearm suffered in spring training derailed Murphy’s season until mid-June. An inability to hit derailed the rest of his Major League season until last Friday.
Murphy was called up when roster expansion took place as the calendar turned to September, giving the Rockies another option behind the plate along with veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Tony Wolters, who was expected to start the season platooning with Murphy before his injury occurred.
After returning to the Rockies, Murphy hit just 1-for-20 in games between June 15 and June 28. That one-hit was an RBI double against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it wasn’t enough to keep Murphy behind the dish at the big league level. On June 30, Ryan Hanigan was brought on to give Colorado another veteran presence behind the plate. Murphy suddenly found himself working to get back to the big leagues at Triple-A Albuquerque.
With the Isotopes, Murphy posted a .255 average and .737 OPS. Nine homers, 10 doubles and 56 RBI fill out his offensive stats. Behind the plate, Murphy threw out 40 percent of the potential base stealers he faced (14 out of 35).
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That’s the key is the 26-year-old Murphy’s eyes. This isn’t about a “lost year” or whatever some might want to call it. He believes he has improved defensively behind the plate.
"“From a development standpoint, my catching has taken a different level this year,” Murphy recently told Jerry Schemmel of the Colorado Rockies radio network. “I’ve just been very disappointed in myself in terms of at the plate in hitting. Really kind of never had things click this year. Limited at-bats, but I go into every at-bat trying to compete my butt off.”"
Now Murphy is hoping to have a chance to show he can not only contribute to Colorado’s run for the postseason but also shake off his early-season struggles. Heading into Wednesday’s series finale against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field, Murphy was 0-for-1 in his lone plate appearance since being called back up.
Over the course of the last three seasons, Murphy has seen action in just 41 games for the Rockies. He knows he is still very young in his career with much to learn.
"“I think it was too much ‘need-to,’” Murphy told Schemmel when asked about his offensive struggles. “I didn’t trust where I was from last year coming into this year so I tried to make every change in the book to try and better myself for my career. I learned the hard way that wasn’t the right approach to come into this year with.“From a player standpoint, you’re always trying to improve so subtle adjustments are much better than major changes. That’s a lesson I learned in trying to recreate where I was at my best is where I am now.”"
Murphy knows he likely won’t be a part of Colorado’s postseason roster. In his mind, he is already focusing on what can happen in the 2018 season and how he can contribute.
"“To be honest, I’m going to get right to work. I’m not going to take time off this year,” Murphy said. “I want to be the most skilled player I can be out there.”"