New Acquisition Q&A: Donnie Murphy, IF

Last season, the Oakland A's completed a trade in early December for a player who had just recently been designated for assignment. While the transaction didn't garner much press at the time, the move for Chad Gaudin turned out to be an important piece of the puzzle for the A's in 2006. Oakland is hoping that history repeats itself this year with the acquisition of Donnie Murphy from Kansas City.

Donnie Murphy actually has a lot in common with Chad Gaudin. Murphy is a middle infielder and Gaudin is a pitcher, but both have had similar career paths. Both Gaudin and Murphy made their professional debuts as 19-year olds. Gaudin was in the major leagues by age 20 and Murphy was a big leaguer by age 21. Both were given chances to stick at the major league level, but neither were able to grab hold of that opportunity during their first tours of the big leagues.

Gaudin was traded from Tampa Bay to Toronto before his 22nd birthday and then was designated for assignment at the end of that season and acquired by Oakland in December 2005. Gaudin was expected to spend the 2006 season in AAA-Sacramento, but injuries to the A's bullpen gave him a shot once again at the big league level. This time, Gaudin took advantage of that opportunity, appearing in 55 games for the A's and posting a 3.09 ERA. He also pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in the playoffs for Oakland.

Murphy made his major league debut with Kansas City in 2004, appearing in seven games. He was then given a chance to win a starting spot with the Royals in 2005 and he appeared in 32 games, collecting 12 hits in 77 at-bats, including one homer, before being sent back down to the minors. He spent the entire 2006 season in AA-Wichita – hitting .249 with 14 homers in 94 games – and then was designated for assignment this off-season. Oakland acquired him just before Thanksgiving for cash considerations and they are hoping for similar returns with Murphy that they received from Gaudin.

Murphy is a .278 career minor league hitter in 466 games, all in the Kansas City system. He has hit 10 or more homeruns in each of his last three minor league seasons and in 2003, he drove-in 98 runs. Murphy is a Southern California native who can play both second base and shortstop. He was the Royals' 22nd best prospect at the time of his acquisition, according to our sister site, RoyalsCorner.

We recently caught-up with the A's newest acquisition to get his feelings on the trade, his goals for the future, and more…

OaklandClubhouse: What was your initial reaction to being traded to the Oakland organization?

Donnie Murphy: I was actually surprised when it happened because I wasn't expecting anything. I was expecting to go back to the Royals and start over and work my way back up, but I was really happy when it happened. It's just a fresh start for me.

OC: Have the A's spoken with you since the trade?

DM: Yeah, they've talked to me a little bit. They gave me the details about spring training and told me to work hard and you never know what might happen.

OC: Are you expecting at this point to go to AAA to start the year or are you just playing it by ear?

DM: I'm kind of playing it by ear, but that's what I'm hoping right now.

OC: I read that last year you played through a wrist injury, I think it was a broken hamate bone?

DM: Yeah, the hook of my hamate bone broke off and I played through it for the last month of the season with that. I got that taken care of this off-season and I am almost done with my rehab.

OC: Did that injury affect you during the season?

DM: It definitely did. It caused a lot of pain in my hand and wrist area so it was kind of difficult when I was swinging. If I took a bad swing, I would really feel it. I feel like it held me back a little bit and definitely didn't help my performance at all.

OC: The year before you spent a good amount of time with Kansas City at the major league level. What was that experience like for you and what did you take away from that time in the big leagues?

DM: When you get called up, you are just overwhelmed. You are really happy to be there, but at the same time, you've got to win the job, so I was happy just to be there at first and then I realized that I had this opportunity to win the job. Unfortunately, I just didn't [win the job]. I had a broken finger and unfortunately, I just didn't take advantage of my opportunity and I'm just hoping that I can get another one.

OC: Was there a particularly memorable moment of that time you had in the major leagues that you'll take with you throughout your career?

DM: Actually the first pitch I saw when I got called up [in 2005] from C.C. Sabathia, I hit a homerun and that was my biggest moment.

OC: What was going through your mind when you were circling the bases?

DM: I thought I was running slow, but everyone told me to slow down and that I was sprinting around the bases [laughing].

OC: What are your goals for next season in terms of your performance and numbers?

DM: My main goal is to stay healthy because it has been a few years since I was healthy for an entire season. Just to stay healthy and try to get back to what I do best, doing all of the little things and not trying to do more than I am capable of doing and just try to play my game.

OC: If you were to describe your game to someone who hadn't seen you play live, how would you describe it?

DM: I go all out, I think that is what my game is. I'd compare my game to Marcus Giles, a little bit, because I put it all on the line in every game and I don't hold anything back.

OC: Do you prefer playing second base or shortstop?

DM: I'm comfortable either way. I'm so used to second base now, but I grew up a shortstop so when I go back [to short], it's just like old times, so I wouldn't have a problem playing at short full-time.

OC: Are you glad to be back in California?

DM: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Just the chance to play back home is great. I have a lot of friends and family here, so I'm looking forward to it.

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