DETROIT -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted to make sure Daniel Murphy felt a part of his new club right away, so he inserted him into the leadoff spot and started the veteran at second base rather than have him be the designated hitter. It worked."[I want him to] be
DETROIT -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted to make sure Daniel Murphy felt a part of his new club right away, so he inserted him into the leadoff spot and started the veteran at second base rather than have him be the designated hitter. It worked.
"[I want him to] be a Cub on the field," Maddon said before Murphy's debut in Wednesday night's 8-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Murphy provided just what Maddon was looking for, going 2-for-5 and working good at-bats. He flied out to left and grounded out in his first two at-bats before logging an RBI single in the fifth. The veteran infielder was acquired on Tuesday from the Nationals in exchange for a Minor League infielder and cash considerations. The hope is that Murphy can provide an offensive spark.
"We want him at the top of the order somewhere," Maddon said.
This was the 13th time Murphy has started as the leadoff man in his career.
"I thought Murph did a great job at the top of the order," Maddon said. "I thought he had some really good at-bats all night long. He definitely set a great example for the rest of the group."
The Cubs players welcomed him during their pre-batting practice ritual. Murphy got hugs from the group.
"It was awesome," he said. "I really enjoyed that. It was a nice welcoming."
"Love the guy," rookie David Bote said. "Baseball rat, just like us. I talked to him a little there in the ninth inning, just scratching the surface of hitting and approach, and what he's got. I'm so excited he's with us. First impressions have been outstanding."
Murphy hasn't been very popular at Wrigley Field since he batted .529 against the Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series. A left-handed hitter, he has a career .413 average in 28 regular season games at Wrigley, which is the top batting average there all time (minimum 100 plate appearances).
"They won a championship the next year," Murphy said. "I don't know how much they've thought about the 2015 postseason since then. That was a good ballclub we played against in 2015 and a really good one in 2016, and I'm excited to be a part of this one in 2018."
He's talked to Anthony Rizzo about the 2015 playoffs -- Rizzo joked that he has had nightmares about that series.
"They booed me a little bit," he said of the Cubs fans' reception in '16. "They were more muffled after their experience in 2016. It was interesting coming in 2016. I'm excited to put on the blue uniform right now."
Murphy may be key in helping the Cubs return to the World Series for the first time since '16.
"I've seen the maturation of [Javier Baez] over the years and Rizzo has had fantastic at-bats, and I've seen Willson Contreras grow up right in front of my eyes," Murphy said. "Jason Heyward is having a really good year, too. I'm just going to fall in line. That's my job is to come in here and compete every single pitch and fall in line."
Murphy, 33, batted .300 in 56 games with the Nationals this season. During a three-game series at Wrigley Field earlier this month, he went 7-for-12.
"I'm coming in here and will try to compete like my hair's on fire, which is what I've seen from afar that this ballclub has done since I've competed against them," Murphy said. "This organization has been right there every single year. I'm humbled to be a part of it now."
There are no problems with his knee, which delayed his start this season until June. He's already had a little experience of having Maddon as his manager because they were together on the NL team at the 2017 All-Star Game.
"I told him to deploy me as he sees fit," Murphy said. "This is about winning a championship."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.