Daniel Murphy goes 2-for-5 from leadoff spot in Cubs debut

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Friday, August 24, 2018

DETROIT -- The Chicago Cubs placed ailing shortstop Addison Russell on the disabled list on Wednesday to make room for newly acquired second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Russell has been battling shoulder, hand and leg issues for weeks, finally succumbing to a nagging knuckle sprain on his left hand.

"Me being a football player, I tend to play through the pain," Russell said Wednesday afternoon. "I want to be out there on the field. That's where I feel like I belong. Just play through the pain is what I'm used to; but when things linger on longer than expected, that's when I know to show it a little more attention."

Russell has been fine on defense, but the injuries have limited him at the plate: His OPS since June 1 is just .664.

Meanwhile, Murphy batted leadoff and played second base in his debut Wednesday night after being acquired in a trade with theWashington Nationalson Tuesday.

"I'm going to come in here and try to compete like my hair is on fire," Murphy said before the game.

He picked up his first hit as a Cub in the fifth inning against theTigers, driving in a run. He finished the night 2-for-5 with a run scored in Chicago's 8-2 win.

"Love the guy. I mean, baseball rat, just like us,'' Cubs infielderDavid Bote said. "Talked to him a little bit there in the ninth inning, kind of just scratching the surface of hitting and approach and what he's got. I'm so excited he's with us.''

Murphy was a notorious Cubs killer while with the New York Mets and Nationals. He's a career .413 hitter at Wrigley Field.

"The day games may help," he said. "I see the ball a bit better during the day. I get more rewarded in the gaps [at Wrigley]."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he'll play Murphy as much as possible at the top of the lineup, then get him out for defense late in the game.

Murphy was a hated figure at Wrigley Field after torching the Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series, when he hit .529.

"They won a championship the next year, so I don't know how much they've thought about [the] 2015 postseason since then," Murphy said, smiling. "I'm just going to fall in line.

"I told [Maddon] to deploy me as he sees fit. This is about winning a championship."

Murphy comes with some baggage: In 2015, he made comments regarding baseball's ambassador of inclusion, Billy Bean, saying he disagreed with Bean's gay "lifestyle."

Murphy's debut with the Cubs coincided with Pride Night at Comerica Park. The Cubs will host their Pride Night during Murphy's debut home series. The team said it called Bean as it was acquiring Murphy.

"We knew he and Daniel had started a friendship since then [2015]," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It's been documented. We wanted to get his impression of it. [Bean] was really positive and said he thought [Murphy] and the organization would benefit from his presence. It was important to us to have made the phone call."

As for being the most hated man in Chicago several years ago, Murphy is hopeful the fans have forgotten about 2015.

"They were more muffled after the experience from 2016 [winning the World Series]," he joked. "It was interesting coming in 2016, in the regular season. They weren't super muffled. I'm excited to put on the blue uniform."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.