Spring Training Q&A: Matt Murton

<B>MESA, Ariz.</B> - Matt Murton was a first round pick in the 2003 draft, stolen from the Boston Red Sox in last year's trade for Nomar Garciaparra. Entering his second season in the Cubs' farm system, the 23-year-old Murton says he believes this is where God wants him.

Inside The Ivy: Matt, what went through your mind when you learned you'd been traded from the Red Sox to the Cubs last year?

Matt Murton: I just thought of it as another step in life. I believe this is where God wants me. It's another opportunity and a challenge for me; a new group of guys I get to meet. The game is still the same, and we're all here trying to do the same thing: contribute at the big league level.

Inside The Ivy: What are some of the things you're working on to get ready for the season ahead?

Matt Murton: The biggest thing for all of us right now is getting our bodies in shape. Getting a feel for our swings, and fine-tuning our defensive work and base running are also very important to us. A lot of us have done some offseason work with our swings and other aspects. Now what we're trying to do is put it all together against live pitching and get our timing back.

Inside The Ivy: How has your first Spring Training with the Cubs gone so far?

Matt Murton: Obviously, the thing you love most about it is the weather. It allows you to get your work in more consistently, so there's generally not as much rain here as the Grapefruit League. It's still baseball, and I think both leagues are great organizations. I'm thankful for the opportunity.

Inside The Ivy: Are there any pressures that you associate with being a first round pick? If so, how do you deal with them?

Matt Murton: There's always–well, I think for everyone, pressure is only what you make it out to be. Whether or not you're taken high or low, pressure is what you put on yourself. I look at it as, we're all here and we all have equal opportunities to move up. I just have to continue to make myself better every day and contribute.

Inside The Ivy: You fanned only 10 times in 70 plus at-bats last season with Daytona. What do you attribute to your success at the plate and your sharp knack for getting on base?

Matt Murton: The big thing is just learning yourself as a hitter and maintaining zone discipline. The better you get at knowing yourself as a hitter, the more consistent you'll be. It's not always about being able to take a pitch by the pitcher, but rather looking for the one you're trying to hit. Then you hit to a certain location or zone. The biggest thing, though, is plate discipline and knowing yourself as a hitter.

Inside The Ivy: What did your offseason consist of, and was the Cubs' workout regime any different than that of the Red Sox?

Matt Murton: Not really. I did my offseason workouts at Georgia Tech. I live in Atlanta, went to school there, and continue to work out there. We were lifting and running five days a week. Baseball-wise, I was always doing something in the offseason that will hopefully make me a better player.

Inside The Ivy: Who are some of the players and coaches you've gotten to know this spring?

Matt Murton: There's a good group of guys here. A lot of them I've really gotten to know more so than others. Obviously, the guys I spent time with last year in Daytona were great. This year, all the guys in mini-camp just sort of started building relationships with each other. It was our chance to be around some of the other players who have been in the organization over the last few years. Those are the guys I probably spent more time with and got to know more.

Inside The Ivy: You had somewhat of a drop in average after being traded to the Cubs. Was there any specific reason for that?

Matt Murton: You know how baseball is. Wen you look at my stats, I started off hitting well and actually dropped down quite a bit, even with Sarasota. The last month was just a part of the game.

Inside The Ivy: How difficult was it to adjust to all the hurricanes that went through Florida last season?

Matt Murton: It was quite an adventure. The first one came when we were in Daytona. We just boarded up and didn't think it would be a big deal, but the eye of the storm came right over us. It was interesting to get up the next day and go to the park, only to see half of our stadium gone. We just did the best we could with what we had.

Inside The Ivy: Lastly, tell us a little about your hobbies and what you do for fun?

Matt Murton: I go to Church and read the Bible a lot. I'm a huge PlayStation2 fan; that's my weakness. Other than that, I enjoy hanging out at the pool with all the guys and enjoying the relationships you create in baseball. It brings together people you've never met. You have guys from America, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Everything that goes into baseball comes from numerous backgrounds. Those relationships are special and hopefully in your spare time, you get to hang out with those players and learn about them.

Inside The Ivy: Thanks for joining us, Matt. Good luck this season.

Matt Murton: Thanks; you, too.

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